Group of women marching for Reclaim the Night in Canberra

What makes public spaces safer for ACT women?

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 them from fully participating in the community.

For example, to ensure that women’s views were taken into account about the safety of ACT public spaces (and public events), 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.

In WCHM’s report Where do older women feel unsafe and why?, published in 2015, we found that feeling unsafe in a public space resulted in older women restricting their participation in public spaces, particularly after dark and when they were alone.

That is why WCHM developed the Safety Mapping Tool (supported by a Women’s Grant from ACT Government) to gather 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.

We have just released a new report which documents the results of data entered in WCHM’s Safety Mapping Tool from June 2016 to August 2018. What makes public spaces safer for ACT women? includes findings about where women feel safe or unsafe in public spaces, and why they feel safe or unsafe.

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.