In 2011 WCHM undertook a project with older women conducting several safety audits of public spaces around the ACT. The purpose of this project was to mobilise older women in the ACT to discuss their safety concerns and come up with ideas about how to make public spaces safer and thus more frequently used by older women. In developing the project, WCHM used the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Age Friendly Cities methodology, as well as an audit tool developed in Canada through the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC). The project was carried out in four phases—a literature review, an online survey, focus groups and the safety audits.
The audits took place in the following public spaces in the ACT:
- Civic Car Parks around the ACT Legislative Assembly and Museum
- The Canberra Hospital (travelling from the Woden Bus Interchange)
- Woden Bus Interchange (Travelling by bus from Civic)
- Belconnen bus interchange and community bus station
- Village Creek Precinct
The project findings revealed that older women have unique safety concerns and may feel vulnerable in their homes and in public spaces, which can reduce their ability to participate in community life. The women’s safety audit aimed to give value to the personal perspectives of older women as valued members of the community and it is hoped the women’s safety audit will shed light on ways in which the physical environment and planning decisions affect older women and will provide age and gender sensitive solutions. The findings of the project were published in Older Women’s safety audits project: Summary of findings.