Do you feel safe in our streets at night?

Police were kept busy in Grafton, when fights broke out on Saturday night, at the end of the Jacaranda Queen Crowning. Photo: Lynne Mowbray/The Daily Examiner
Police were kept busy in Grafton, when fights broke out on Saturday night, at the end of the Jacaranda Queen Crowning. Photo: Lynne Mowbray/The Daily Examiner Lynne Mowbray

MORE than half of our women do not feel safe walking alone at night and an advocacy group says there are things the local community can do to help.

The Australia We Want report, released on Thursday, said less than half - or 48% - of Australian women, including those in regional areas, felt safe compared to about 80% of men.

The report, from the Community Council for Australia, also said more than one in three people did not feel safe walking alone at night.

Plan International Australia deputy chief Susanne Legena said there were multiple things a community could do to improve the startling statistics.

She said mentality around victim-blaming needed to change.

When hearing about a woman being attacked or assaulted, Ms Legena said it was common for people to wonder what the woman was wearing.

But people need to catch themselves and change their mentality to put the responsibility back on the perpetrator.

Another change communities could enforce is to educate men about how women can feel walking at night.

If a man is walking behind a woman on the footpath, and he notices her steps quicken, he could say "I'm just going to walk in front of you so you can see me,” Ms Legena said.

"We can make men more aware of how they can make a woman feel without even meaning to,” she said.

Having the right infrastructure - such as better lighting - could also help, but she said research had found women would feel safer if there were more night activities and therefore more people around.

The Australia We Want report also examined how people's feelings of safety had changed over time.

More NSW residents felt safe in 2014 than they did in 2010, with figures growing from about 50% to 53% within the four years.

But on an international scale, Australians feel more scared than residents in other countries.

In 2015, 62.6% of Australians felt safe when walking alone at night.

This was much lower than the international average of 68.3%; a figure compiled from countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Australia We Want report also found that suicide rates were higher than the road toll in Australia and that the country was slipping down the international corruption scale, and also down the scale of international generosity.

"These are not good indicators,” the report said.


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