Three bartenders are pictured standing in a bar in Wollongong, with two patrons on stools. Photo: Paul Jones

Set The Bar creating a safer environment for all in Wollongong

Set The Bar creating a safer environment for all in Wollongong

UOW-led online training program helping prevent sexual assault and harassment, and inappropriate behaviour

A new initiative from the University of Wollongong (UOW) is working to keep young people safe during nights out in the city, with training in identifying and putting a stop to sexual assault and harassment, and inappropriate behaviour.

Set The Bar has seen UOW’s Safe and Respectful Communities team partner with the Wollongong Local Liquor Accord and local licensed venues and events on the sexual assault and harassment prevention program, which aims to empower staff from local bars, pubs and clubs to improve safety. 

The online training program is free for all staff of participating venues, which will also receive posters and a window decal that will demonstrate their commitment to patron safety. Staff will be given the appropriate tools and information to respond to incidents appropriately.

Dr Nancy Huggett, Director of the Safe and Respectful Communities Program at UOW, said Set The Bar was a vital way to help not only university students, but the entire Illawarra community.

“Sexual assault, harassment, bullying and discrimination have no place at UOW, but they also have no place in our local communities either. Set The Bar is an innovative and comprehensive program that provides fundamental information and tools to help staff at venues across Wollongong to identify and support victims,” Dr Huggett said.

“University students are frequent visitors to these venues in Wollongong, but this program is applicable across the population. We hope Set The Bar will have a positive ripple effect in the wider community and not only benefit our students, but anyone working in or visiting these venues.”

The training, which is free for all staff working in licensed premises, aims to help staff be confident to:

  • Define behaviour that constitutes sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Discuss the gendered nature of the problem
  • Identify and understand barriers to reporting, disclosing and seeking help
  • Practice strategies on how to be an active bystander and disrupt perpetrator behaviour
  • Understand what to say and do when receiving a disclosure of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment
  • Identify support services and reporting options available

La La La’s is one of the participating venues in Wollongong. Nathan Stratton, owner of La La La’s, said Set The Bar has proven to be important to both his staff and his patrons.

“The Set the Bar training really highlighted the importance of having a safe environment within the community,” Mr Stratton said. “As a bartender, it’s absolutely crucial to have complete awareness of the setting and those within it.”

Set The Bar has been named as a finalist in the LearnX awards for Best Learning and Development Project (Best Learning Campaign). This award focuses on a campaign-based learning project that was implemented to create behavioural change, with winners to be announced on 17 November.

Set The Bar was born from a UOW Community Engagement Grant, which provided $13,000 to a team from UOW, with community partners to create and implement the program.

It forms part of UOW’s Safe and Respectful Communities initiative, a comprehensive, whole-university approach to creating a safe and respectful environment for all.