Where do you feel safe?

As the impact of gendered violence reverberates across society, Monash Art, Design and Architecture's gender, design and space specialists, XYX Lab, and award-winning digital consultancy, CrowdSpot, have teamed up with 18 local councils to crowdsource perceptions of safety in public space and make real change.

Launched on 27 April, a new interactive map YourGround, will help make more inclusive public space for everyone to enjoy leisure, sport and play.

YourGround will map local streets, parks, trails and recreational spaces in metro and regional Victoria, sharing the often hidden experiences of safety for women and genderdiverse people.

Statistics show that movement and access is restricted for women and gender-diverse people due to fear, violence and harassment. While 80% of Australian men report feeling safe walking alone at night, a 2019 Community Council for Australia report notes that only 50% of women say the same.

With the implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020 recently, creating inclusive spaces is a priority state-wide. YourGround is one of the first responsive, widespread engagements where women and gender-diverse people are invited to share their experiences.

YourGround is a proactive tool to help make positive change in our shared public spaces – spaces that should be freely accessible to everyone. The map allows users to anonymously drop a pin, tell a story or share an experience while out for leisure, sport, exercise, play or catching up with friends. When collated and analysed, this data will provide insights that can make our cities, our towns, parks and community spaces more inclusive and equitable. Whether it be while running, picnicking, playing sport or at a playdate in the park, from the 27th of April, women and gender-diverse people are being asked to share their stories about where they feel safe or unsafe to help inform key decision makers.

The ability to move freely in and around the places you live, work and play, and to feel you belong in your space and place is an essential human right. Yet, often this is denied to many on the basis of gender. As designers, architects, urban planners, councillors, facilitators, even equity experts, we can’t make assumptions about what women and genderdiverse people experience. XYX Lab works from lived, sometimes hidden, experiences to really make an impact. As a grassroots, crowdsourcing tool YourGround will uncover the experiences that restrict access to exercise and freedom of movement and provide important insights to those tasked with making key decisions.

Dr Nicole Kalms, Co-Director, XYX Lab

Anthony Aisenberg, Director of CrowdSpot says, "CrowdSpot specialises in crowdsourced mapping projects that uncover new perspectives and untold stories, most recently the successful BikeSpot 2020. We know the difference that meaningful data and surprising insights can make in uncovering the contexts and situations that restrict movement. We’re keen to discover what we’ll learn on the YourGround map from womenand gender diverse people about their experiences exercising, playing sport or at leisure."

Quotes from women and gender diverse people about exercising and accessing public space:

"I used to feel uncomfortable walking here at night because it was so dark but in the last couple of years the business added lighting to discourage graffiti and as a result it is now a nicer place to walk after dark." (Female, Age 34)

"My experiences in this park have been really positive. There are always lots of other women of all ages using the park which makes me feel safe even when walking in the evening." (Female, Age 33)

"...Men still think that it is ok to abuse and treat women like sexual objects. I feel like ‘less’ of a person when I see this place even though I am not connected to the business [brothel] as a woman it affects me." (Female, Age 36)

"Great walking track that’s good with a pram because the bridge is wide enough for a double pram." (Female, Age 30)

"This public toilet does not have gender neutral / all gender bathrooms. This is common of too many Council run facilities. This impacts on both my ability to get things done in my local community – and sends an associated, subtle message of ‘you’re not really welcome/valued here’." (Non binary, Age 40)

YourGround launched Tuesday 27 April 2021 at yourground.org

About XYX Lab

Focusing on women and girls and LGBTIQ communities, the XYX Lab’s team of researchers and designers work collaboratively with architects, urban designers, policy makers and the broader community to address design factors that make cities exclusionary and threatening according to gender. Learn more...

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