Keep Safe Walking At nightPeople visiting Sydney’s Oxford St precinct are being urged to take precautions and report any incidents of violence following a series of attacks on the strip earlier this week.

 It has been reported that several people were assaulted by a man on Tuesday night at various points along Oxford St. Police have confirmed that the perpetrator has been arrested and charged and bail has been refused.

 ACON – NSW’s and Australia’s largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation – is working with police to find out more details of what happened and to assist them in their enquiries.

 ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill is encouraging any victims or witnesses, or anyone with any information, to speak with ACON’s Anti-Violence Project or report directly to Surry Hills Police.

 “ACON can assist with counselling and can also support those who would like assistance in reporting to or contacting police. If you would like to speak with the AVP please call 9206 2066, the AVP Report-Line on 9206 2116, or free call on 1800 063 060. You can also email us on [email protected]” he says.

 “Violence of any kind in gay and lesbian neighbourhoods is unacceptable. It is important that GLBT people who experience or witness incidents of violence report it to ACON’s AVP and the police.”

“We’re working with the relevant authorities to improve security measures for our community. However, there are also several personal precautions that people can take to minimise the risk of violence.”

If you are walking in the street (especially at night) you can:

  • Stay alert. Awareness is your best defence
  • Walk with others. Stick close to a friend or a group of ‘safe’ looking people like other gays or lesbians or groups of women
  • Keep enough money for a taxi or bus
  • Walk in well lit areas
  • Where possible, avoid doorways, bushes etc where an attacker might hide
  • Remember that alcohol can make people aggressive and unpredictable

 The vast majority of street-based homophobic violence is perpetrated by groups of young men travelling together. If you see such a group you can:

  • Cross the road. Try not to draw attention to yourself
  • Avoid making eye contact or stay alert for homophobic signals like comments and stares
  • Avoid walking through the middle of the group. Go around them
  • Try to ensure you have a clear escape route if you need it

 There are a few other strategies you can use to help keep safe.

  • Know the trouble spots, eg. outside certain pubs, and either avoid them or be extra careful when near them
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right get away. You may not be right about the situation but it is better to be safe