Pilot project making outdoor spaces safe

Article image - Pilot project making outdoor spaces safe A map which crowdsources data will help inform decisions to create inclusive spaces for women and gender-diverse people in Victoria.

Victorian Councils have joined forces in partnership with Monash University on the YourGround research project, which aims to advance knowledge of personal safety in public spaces.

Launched on 27 April, the new interactive map YourGround, will help make more inclusive public spaces for everyone.

Statistics show that movement and access is restricted for women and gender-diverse people due to fear, violence and harassment; while 80 percent of Australian men report feeling safe walking alone at night, a 2019 Community Council for Australia report noted only 50 percent of women say the same.

Moira Shire Mayor, Libro Mustica said YourGround would map local streets, parks, trails and recreational spaces, sharing the often hidden experiences of safety, particularly for women and gender-diverse people. 

“With the implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020, creating inclusive spaces for women and gender-diverse people is a priority state-wide.

“YourGround is a proactive tool to help make positive change in our shared public spaces.

“The map crowdsources data, allowing users to anonymously drop a pin, tell a story or share an experience while out for leisure, sport, exercise or play.

“When collated and analysed, this data will provide insights that can make our outdoor spaces more inclusive and equitable.”

The mayor said people’s individual experience would help develop the research project.

“The stories and places shared on the YourGround map will inform key decisions and decision-makers and document changes to public and recreational spaces.”

Dr Nicole Kalms, co-director of Monash University’s XYXLab, said the ability to move freely in and around the places you live, work and play, and to feel you belong in your space and place is an essential human right.

“Yet often this is denied to many on the basis of gender.

“As designers, architects, urban planners, councillors, facilitators, even equity experts, we can’t make assumptions about what women and gender-diverse people experience.

“XYX Lab works from lived, sometimes hidden, experiences to really make an impact.

“As a grassroots, crowdsourcing tool YourGround will uncover the experiences that restrict access to exercise and freedom of movement and provide important insights to those tasked with making key decisions.”