WCHM knows from our previous work that perceptions of personal safety can influence the extent to which some people in the ACT – especially women – use public places and spaces, preventing some people from fully participating in the community.
Previously WCHM developed and conducted safety assessments to consult with ACT women and to identify how to go about making changes to improve the safety of a location so that we could ensure that women’s views were taken into account about the safety of ACT public spaces (and public events). And in 2015 we published a report Where do older women feel unsafe and why? which identified that older women restricted their participation in public spaces, particularly after dark and when they were alone, and that they felt unsafe in public spaces where there was poor lighting or barriers to visibility, in isolated areas or where there was no passive surveillance, or where there were other people in the area who may be a threat to their personal safety.
That is why WCHM developed the Safety Mapping Tool (supported by a Women’s Grant from ACT Government) to gather wider information from Canberrans (particularly women) about the public places and spaces in the ACT where they feel safe or unsafe, and to understand what elements contribute to those spaces being perceived to be safe or unsafe.
This week we have just released a new report which documents the findings from the data entered in WCHM’s Safety Mapping Tool for the period June 2016 to August 2018. It includes findings about where women feel safe or unsafe in public spaces, and why they feel safe or unsafe. And it confirms that women and men use public spaces differently, and have different ideas about what makes them feel safe or unsafe in those spaces.