Working towards creating safer spaces in music is vital to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy live music without feeling threatened or uncomfortable. That’s the word from a panel yesterday held as part of this year’s Electronic Music Conference.

Broadly defined, “safer spaces” mean ones that work to be free from intimidation and threats of violence and harassment, accessible to anyone who wishes to attend, and ultimately safe for all. For artists, promoters and venue owners, working towards these spaces is particularly crucial at a time when the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence at venues is at a disturbing high.

For many, encountering sexual harassment has become a normalised aspect of a night out. The statistics panelist Dr. Bianca Fileborn uncovered with her research into unwanted sexual behaviour back this up – 80.2% of the 230 people surveyed viewed unwanted sexual attention as common in Melbourne’s pubs and clubs.

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While grassroots communities have been working towards safer spaces for years, it’s becoming clear that official policy and government backing are critical steps to reducing these rates.

The panel included co-founder of lobby group Save Live Australian Musician and member of the Live Music Roundtable Helen Marcou. She was part of a team writing policy for a recently government-funded task force to examine sexual assault in music venues; through which she hopes there’ll be cultural change, with people having the tools to identify behaviours and work on prevention.