New research on sexual violence at Australian music festivals reveals troubling statistics

A new study investigating the prevalence and impact of sexual violence at Australian music festivals has been published by The Conversation.

Conducted by Dr Bianca Fileborn and Dr Phillip Wadds from UNSW, and Professor Stephen Tomsen from Western Sydney University, the study is the first of its kind in Australia, and one of the few in the world. Its findings were troubling, concluding that concerns about sexual assault and harassment “profoundly impact women’s ability to fully participate in music festivals”.


New research finds that concerns about sexual assault and harassment “profoundly impact women’s ability to fully participate in music festivals” in Australia.

The study involved an online survey of 500 people who attend Australian music festivals on their perceptions of safety and sexual violence at events, as well as 16 people who had either experienced sexual violence or been involved in responding to an incident.

They found that 61.5% of participants said that they “usually” felt safe at festivals, however, that “men more consistently said they felt safe compared to women and LGBT participants”.

The study revealed that 74.1 % of participants believe sexual assault does occur at music festivals, with women seen as most likely to experience sexual harassment (86.7%) and sexual assault (86%).

“Participants often said they changed the way they dressed, were less likely to inhabit crowded spaces (such as the mosh), and were often hyper-vigilant,” the authors wrote. “In short, sexual violence reduced the ability of women to enjoy these important social and cultural events.”

“Of course, it is important to remember that sexual violence occurs across many spaces,” the study notes. “In fact, it is most likely to occur in private residential areas. So, it is vital not to demonise festivals as particularly problematic spaces.”

“Nonetheless, in order to prevent sexual violence, we must address it wherever it occurs. It is heartening that many festivals in Australia and internationally have begun to implement policies to tackle this behaviour.”

The study concluded by saying: “Our findings also point to the need for responses that are tailored to the unique dynamics of music festivals. A “one-size-fits-all” approach is unlikely to be effective. If we take these steps, we can start to change the tune of sexual violence at festivals.”

You can read the entire article here.

If you or anyone close to you needs help dealing with mental illness, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you need assistance, the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service can be reached on 1800 737 732.