Ask For Angela – Hospitality Patron Safety Campaigns
A hot topic in our RSA, RMLV and Bar Skills training courses over the last few years has been Patron Safety initiatives and the role hospitality staff can play in keeping customers safe from sexual harassment and violence.
With online dating now the most popular platform for finding Mr or Mrs right, many people are meeting face-to-face for the first time in venues. It’s easy, and unfortunately quite common to embellish a dating profile. What if a date turns out to be ‘creepy’ and not who they were posing to be online?
This can put women in a vulnerable, uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous situation, where they might feel threatened and concerned for their safety if they tried to exit the new ‘friendship.’
A Discreet way to Get to Safety
Nobody has the right to make people feel uncomfortable when they’re out socialising.
Common Forms of Harassment in Pubs and Clubs
It’s not always a bad tinder date that may pose a problem. Concerning behaviours from general patrons may also include:
Rude / inappropriate comments
Trying to sit or dance with someone who’s not interested
Following / Stalking
Groping / touching
Aggression when unwanted advances are turned down
Ask For Angela Campaign
Ask for Angela is an initiative of the Lincolnshire City Council in the UK, which has since been adopted around the globe.
The “Ask Angela” campaign is named in remembrance of Angela Crompton, a woman who was abused and killed by her husband in 2012 when an argument got out of hand. “Angela”, was also inspired by the “Guardian Angel.”
It’s well known that many women feel they would not be believed or taken seriously. There’s also a fear of consequences for reporting an assault, whether it be fear of further abuse from the accused, or victim blaming.
87% of women who have experienced assault do not contact the police.
- Two in five people (39%) of men and women aged 18 years and over experienced sexual harassment during their lifetime
- According to the ABS one in five Australian women and one in 20 men have experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.
How Does Ask For Angela Work?
Participating venues can download and print the “Ask For Angela” Posters and flyers for placement around the venue, particularly in the ladies bathrooms. Artwork for Ask For Angela coasters and flyers can be found at clubsqld.com.au.
All staff members should be trained to quietly and discreetly assist the patron who is feeling unsafe; by escorting them to a safe space within the venue – most likely back of house, and arranging a taxi or similar lift ride service.
OzAngels Campaign Launches in Rockhampton
Very similar to Ask For Angela, OzAngels is a locally run initiative in the Rockhampton region.
The initiative encourages women who feel uncomfortable and in a potentially unsafe situation to approach the staff and ask for an “OzAngel.”
This prompts the team to arrange for the patron feeling threatened to be safely and discreetly escorted from the venue and helped home, and/or depending on the situation, to contact the police.
“It is very concerning when you hear the accounts of women who have experienced threatening or predatory behaviour, as well as unwanted attention, while they are simply trying to enjoy a night out,” Mayor Williams said.
While the program is in its early stages in Central Queensland, the response has been positive with over 21 venues already registered. OzAngel Program Founder and Coordinator Shell Pearce welcomes enquiries from all bars, hotels and clubs across the region.
For more information contact: [email protected] or visit their Facebook page @OzAngel Program.
Protecting Staff and Patrons
For hospitality staff, responding to incidents of sexual harassment or violence is never easy. By opening up a line of communication to avoid an incident escalating, staff are able to sensitively help patrons that quietly raise the alarm, without causing a fuss or ‘tipping off’ the person/s in question.
This benefits staff and patrons alike, by mitigating the risk of confrontation, and lessening the likelihood of an assault taking place. Everyone has the right to feel safe and protected as they have fun in our venues.