“Is Angela here?”: The code-word campaign helps women stay safe in bars

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A man holding a woman’s hand while on a date. Source- Pexels

Imagine you are on a date with a guy you met on Tinder. The date turns out to be a disaster. He makes unwanted advances towards you, and the situation feels uncomfortable.

What do you do?

Four years ago, the Ask Angela scheme was launched and aimed at addressing sexual violence. Originated in England, the plan encouraged customers to approach a staff member at the bar and ‘ask for Angela’ if they needed to leave an unsafe situation. The campaign was taken up across bars and pubs within the region. The ‘Ask Angela’ arrangement became viral on social media and gained international attention.

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates there were 11,009 victims of sexual assault in 2019, 8% more than the previous year.

It was the highest rate of sexual assault in ten years.

Within a year, Australian Hotels Association NSW (AHA NSW) launched the initiative with NSW Police in Wagga Wagga May 2017.  Several liquor accords adopted the program across the state including Port Macquarie, Camden, Northern Beaches, Maitland, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and St George/Sutherland.

Ask Angela was launched interstate in Tasmania, Whitsundays, ACT, South Australia and Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

Director at AHA NSW, John Green, delivered the training in Tasmania and Canberra.

“With a large number of people meeting via social dating apps such as Tinder, RSVP, eHarmony etc and going out for their first physical meeting in licensed premises – it is important that those people have a method of quickly seeking assistance if there is something about the meeting, they have a concern with,” says Mr Green.

“Apart from that aspect, the patron awareness campaign that says venues are safe places to go sends a strong message that licensed premises are safe places to go,” continues Mr Green.

 

A poster about Ask For Angela. Source- Pexels

Training and awareness information was provided to 1,300 licensed premises in the City of Sydney Local Government Area.

Sydney bartender, Kye Bandrowski, was trained in the Ask Angela scheme that same year it launched. She says no one has used the code word at her venue.

“Ask for Angela is extremely important because it gives people the chance to safely remove themselves from uncomfortable situations with the help of bar staff,” Says Ms Bandrowski.

In 2018, Sydney’s The Star was one of the venues to participate in the initiative when the NSW Government launched the program.

“We have fostered a welcoming environment for millions of guests, and their continued safety is of paramount importance to us,” says a spokesperson at The Star.

“We’re proud to be involved in this campaign, which helps our team members reinforce that commitment,” Says The Star Spokesperson.

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