Falls Festival punters on the third day of the festival in Byron Bay.
Falls Festival punters on the third day of the festival in Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg

CCTV, counsellors to prevent sex assaults at Falls Festival

FALLS Festival Byron Bay organisers have announced a list of measures to prevent sexual assaults during the New Year's event.

This will include more CCTV cameras, sexual assault counsellors on site, psychological first aid training for key event staff and increased security in campgrounds.

A statement released today by Falls co-producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco explained one of the main obstacles in supporting victims of assault or harassment was the person's reticence to report their incident.

"Should an incident occur, we look to make the process of reporting incidences more supportive for victims of assault or harassment,” the announcement said.

"Falls will also empower our event team with the tools to handle these situations confidently through specific training programs.

"Falls will be introducing sexual assault counsellors to all sites, who will sit between our onsite medical teams and police.

"These counsellors will be able to provide immediate crisis care, introduce victims to local support services for short and long-term help and guide them through the various processes should they want to engage police to pursue further action.”

The producers also announced that UNSW Criminology lecturers Bianca Fileborn and Phillip Wadds have undertaken an independent research piece at the 2017/18 Byron Bay event into sexual assaults at festivals.

"This research will provide us with valuable insight with regards to further measures of prevention and ensuring appropriate incident management.”

The full list of measures announced today is:

  • Increased number of CCTV cameras across the sites
  • Increased security in the campgrounds
  • Key event staff to undertake psychological first aid training
  • Sexual assault counsellors on site at all events
  • Specific training for all event staff in dealing with the reporting of incidences of sexual assault or harassment on site
  • Formalising sexual assault incident response protocols for staff and patrons
  • Private consultation spaces within the medical area for assault victims

The statement said the Falls team will be issuing more detailed information of numbers to call and locations of services closer to the event via the website, official app and direct patron communications.

"Falls has a zero tolerance policy with regard to dangerous and irresponsible behaviours, the safety of our patrons is our foremost concern,” the organisers said.

"We work year-round to bring together incredible events, at some of Australia's most iconic locations - we want everyone to feel free and safe in our spaces and to leave with great memories.”

Police charged three men at Falls in Marion Bay, Tasmania, at the 2017/18 festival for sexual assault at the mosh pit and camping grounds.

This followed two reports of sexual assault in the mosh pit and one of rape in the camping area on the previous year at the same location.

Plain-clothed police were in the mosh pit this year in all sites and stickers and badges saying 'sexual assault is a crime' and 'enjoy the festival, don't assault anyone” were being handed out.

  • Falls Festival Byron Bay is normally held December 31 to January 2 and a line up announcement for the 2018/19 festival is expected in the next few weeks.