Co-founder of Safely, Justin Nesvanulica joined Dee Dee Dunleavy on 3AW where they discuss the shocking statistics surrounding women's safety as lockdowns ease.
According to a frightening statistic from a survey conducted in 2021, about 40% of Australian women had already suffered unwanted harassment and attention after the lockdown was lifted. Both Nesvanulica and Dunleavy remain concerned about how and why women are feeling even more frightened in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Why do you think there is an increase in the number of women who feel unsafe?
It was really surprising to us, we surveyed 400 Australian women to see how their feelings were about getting social again after lockdown and as you mentioned around 40% of them had already experienced harassment and even more surprisingly 64% are now expecting to see more harassment with the fact that 10% of these women are carrying a weapon to keep themself safe which is extremely surprising to us.
How do these figures compare to before the pandemic/lockdowns?
We created an app called Safely, and when we were doing the xx in 2019 we did a very similar survey where the statistics were alarming but after re-running the survey we have noticed an increase in the number of these statistics which has really made us feel good about why we created the app and how it's going to be used.
So how does the app work?
Safely is a completely opt-in app that users can download from the apple or android store. They can invite friends, family, and loved ones to be their guardians, and if they ever feel unsafe they can actually use the app to alert them, to let them know. The app will show the guardians where they are, a live stream of the incident, including video and audio footage. That then goes into a secure cloud for safekeeping so if the phone was damaged we would have secured that evidence.
Is there any link to the police? I am concerned women may think the alert to family and friends is enough but in some situations, you need the police there immediately?
By no means is Safely a replacement for emergency services, it is designed for women to feel safe and be safe by harnessing the power of people. We have to recognise that not every situation warrants a 000 call. Women may be feeling unsafe or uncomfortable walking home or on the train, safely allows them to press and hold a button in which their guardians will be notified and if the situation does escalate all they need to do is remove their finger from the screen and we will be alerting and capturing evidence immediately. The phone also makes a siren, we’re hoping it's enough to deter anything from progressing.
So it's before the point of needing to call the police to help you?
There are also some triggers we have because not every attack/incident can be foreseen. For example, removing headphones whether wireless or corded or shaking your phone can actually set off that alarm, which makes it great for exercising in the morning, walking your dog, etc… it’s actually keeping people safe before they know there is danger there.
And this research you have done shows that 40% of Australian women say they have experienced harassment/unwanted attention since lockdown eased. What do you think the difference is? Why do you think this feeling has increased?
We have all been locked up, we have 2 years worth of young teenagers that haven't been able to go out and are now faced with the fact of going out. Some people will take those of these situations. There's anxiety and not knowing what's going to happen plus there's news every second day hearing that someone has been attacked or felt unsafe.
Do you feel less safe or vulnerable to harassment coming out of lockdown?
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