Standing up for saying 'no'

Article image - Standing up for saying 'no' I Belong in the Gong is about feeling safe in the City of Wollongong.

Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery AM, said, I Belong in the Gong is about saying no to harassment and letting people know who they can ask for help if they experience confronting or threatening behaviour.

“NSW Police has told us crime rates in the CBD have dropped in recent years but we know bullying and harassment often goes unreported.

The campaign hopes to raise awareness that threatening and harassing behaviours are crimes and will not be tolerated.

“We pride ourselves that our City is a diverse and inclusive one and this is just another step to reinforce this message.”

The project is funded by NSW Department of Justice, and is in partnership with NSW Police, Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra, Illawarra Multicultural Services and Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (SCARF).

Council surveyed 328 women about their experiences in the City with the data being used to create initiatives and programs to reduce negative behaviour.

The survey showed the vast majority of women, if they needed help, would approach Police or security, 49 percent also said they would ask retailers for help.

Prompted by this response, Council launched a series of decal stickers and a retail charter for stores to identify themselves as a safe space and that the business doesn’t support unwelcome behaviour.

Earlier in the year Council launched the I Belong in the Gong campaign with a video highlighting the fact that everyone who calls the City home pride themselves on being open and welcoming.

Lord Mayor Bradbury said, “We had a really positive response to this campaign and this is the next phase to increase knowledge of the project.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, Gareth Ward MP, said, “I am very pleased to support I Belong in the Gong because everybody has the right to feel safe in the City of Wollongong.

“This campaign sends the message loud and clear – we do not support threatening or harassing behaviours.

“I encourage local small businesses to also get behind this campaign and show your support for a safer Wollongong.”

The Mayor said the information gained from the survey would be used to drive change in people’s behaviour.

“We will not tolerate any form of harassment in our City.

“We’re a welcoming place, a friendly place and everyone should feel safe here.”