By Nkayla Afshariyan
People who feel threatened or unsafe during a date or social situation can now ask Sydney bartenders for ‘Angela’, in a new initiative to combat violence and sexual assault.
The NSW Government today launched the internationally recognised ‘Ask for Angela’ safety campaign to prevent violence and anti-social behaviour in Sydney’s CBD.
The program allows patrons to ask staff at participating venues for a woman called Angela if they feel unsafe, with the code word alerting trained staff to discreetly escort the person to safety.
Launched in conjunction with NSW Police, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and the City of Sydney, the program officially begins on Saturday July 14 and has already been trialled in Wagga Wagga, Albury, Orange and Byron Bay.
Originally created two years ago in Lincolnshire, England, Minister for Police Troy Grant said the program has been successful and supports the introduction in Sydney.
“Given the increasing popularity of online dating apps, many people are meeting for dates at bars, clubs and pubs having never met beyond the screens of their phone or computer,” Minister Grant said.
“We don’t want people feeling intimidated when they’re socialising in the city, they’re out to enjoy themselves, not feel threatened and this initiative supports their safety.”
Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Miller said the program sends a message that anti-social and violent behaviour is intolerable.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in the city, at all times,” Cr Miller said.
“Ask for Angela sends a message that creepy behaviour will not be tolerated and that nobody has the right to make anyone else feel threatened in any way.”
Central Metropolitan Region Police Commander Mark Walton stressed those who feel they are in immediate danger or need urgent help should call triple-0.
“We are determined to prevent sexual assaults and if this campaign allows us to remove people from harm’s way, then it’s well worth the wait,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Walton added police will monitor how effective the program is before considering a broader use.
Venues ‘quite enthusiastic’ about the program
AHA NSW director of liquor and policing John Green said many venues across Sydney had shown interest in rolling out the program and staff training had already begun.
“Participating venues have been quite enthusiastic about introducing ‘Ask for Angela’ to the city of Sydney,” he said.
For Sydney bartender Jusinta, who has been in the industry for seven years, the initiative is “crucial”.
“As a woman myself I know how difficult it is to ask for help, especially to a stranger, and I think this is a really discreet way to do that,” she said.
“Very sadly it’s crucial in the world right now. Dating isn’t what it used to be before and people aren’t who they used to be before.
“I really hope people will get behind the initiative and actually do it and to understand that we are the bartenders and we have to take care of our customers and this is a discreet way to help them in that situation.”