Herald Sun: More Women Fear for Safety - Poll’s post-virus shock

Dayna Mignone
April 30, 2021

Almost 40% of Australian women say they have experienced harassment or unwanted attention in public since lockdown subsided, a survey has found.

After almost 2 years of lockdowns are across most of the country, an alarming number of Australian women have revealed they feel less save them before the pandemic.

The survey of more than 400 women – primarily in Victoria and New South Wales – found that 36% have been harassed in public since strict stay-at-home orders eased. More than 60% of respondents anticipate harassment and unwanted attention will be more prevalent now that people are moving freely. Almost 10% of women said they carried a weapon to help them feel safe. Security expert Justin Nesvanulica, who commissioned the survey, said the findings were “shocking but unfortunately not surprising”.

“For so many women, adjusting to life after lockdown comes with an added anxiety about their safety as they head back to the gym, workplace, or social events,” he said.

Mr. Nesvanulica this month launch the app Safely, which transforms a user's phone into a handheld security system in a move to help women feel safe. “A few years ago, I was working with the women’s group helping to protect women from violence, and it really bothered me that we had systems to protect our homes and our workplaces, but nothing to protect someone once they step out the door,” he said.

“We developed safely to help empower women to live freely and to feel safe, without feeling like they need to clench their car keys or constantly look over their shoulder.”

The app has an alarm that sets off a siren and flashing lights and can automatically capture footage and details of incidents as they’re happening. The technology allows users to invite loved ones, who can track their whereabouts and receive alerts – or a live stream – during an incident.

Prahran woman Liam, 24, who has downloaded the app, said that during Covid she felt a “loss of control”. “I recently moved out of home – I have my family members and partner connected, so they would all be notified if any alarms were triggered,” she said.