19 Nov 2018

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington Branch teams up with Police and Council to help prevent sexual assault in Wellington

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington Branch has joined forces with Wellington Police and Wellington City Council in the sexual assault prevention campaign Don’t Guess The Yes. The campaign continues its drive to change attitudes and behaviours around alcohol consumption and sexual consent.

Over 50 Wellington-based members of Hospitality New Zealand have signed up to Don’t Guess The Yes, making a commitment to help to prevent sexual assault and keep Wellington a safe place to socialise in.

Don’t Guess The Yes, which has its festive season launch over the weekend of November 23-24, is also supported by the Sexual Assault Prevention Network, Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association and Massey University Students Association.

The purpose of the campaign is to proactively try to prevent sexual assault, abuse and harassment by educating both the public and bar staff on issues surrounding consent and alcohol consumption, helping everyone to make #betterdecisions while on a night out.

The campaign shows those who work in the hospitality industry how they can do their part in protecting patrons. Training for the hospitality sector is being provided as part of the campaign, which will give staff the necessary skills and confidence to identify problematic situations, empowering them to step in and help patrons that might be at risk.

Commenting on the launch of Don’t Guess The Yes, Hospitality New Zealand Wellington Branch President and MD of Hoff Hospitality Group Matt Mclaughlin said: “The very first training session at Jack Hackett’s in June was an amazing success, with 120 of Wellington’s bar staff turning up voluntarily. After that, I realised there was a fantastic opportunity here to take this a step further and promote our sexual assault training citywide. The hospitality industry has a strong social conscience, and we want to make a positive difference to our community.

“Wellington is a fantastic city with an outstanding late-night economy that people from all over the world rave about, but it is also a safe city to enjoy at night time. By working together with Police we are in a strong position to promote acceptable standards of behaviour and respect among our patrons, customers and the public. We see this as a community wide issue and that everyone needs to do their bit to keep the city safe and thriving,” Mclaughlin said.

Detective Sergeant Ben Quinn said Wellington Police continue to be committed in their campaign to prevent adult sexual assault with Don’t Guess the Yes. Ben said: “This festive season we want the public to make good decisions around sexual consent and alcohol consumption before during and after their nights out and work parties. This means making sure you have consent for any sexual contact from a partner who is sober enough to give it. It means asking them questions like, Is this OK? Shall we do this? Should we keep going? It means respecting your partner if the answer is No.”

“Our collaboration with Hospitality New Zealand this year has offered strong support across the Wellington CBD allowing the Don’t Guess the Yes message to be loud and visible throughout our city,” DS Quinn added.

Don’t Guess the Yes continues to be a joint approach alongside Wellington City Council, and in support of the initiative Wellington Mayor Justin Lester stated: “We are proud of our International Safe City accreditation – but that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Collaborating again with the local Police, Hospitality New Zealand and our university student associations to help raise awareness about the Don’t Guess the Yes initiative is something we will continue to do until the message gets through that sexual violence is not tolerated in Wellington.”

To kick-off the campaign, on November 13, Hospitality New Zealand member and well-known Wellington pub Jack Hackett’s hosted a free Sexual Assault Prevention Training Session. The training featured representatives from Wellington Police’s Adult Sexual Assault unit and Alcohol Harm Reduction officers, as well as the Sexual Assault Prevention Network.

Hospitality New Zealand members who had signed up to the Don’t Guess The Yes campaign were requested to send their staff to the free training. The November 13 session was not the first time Hospitality New Zealand has run a Sexual Assault Prevention Training Session for its members, but it has been the most high-profile session yet. At the training, Hospitality New Zealand provided attendees with free resources to raise awareness of the campaign over the launch weekend, as well as information sheets on the topic for staff reference.

The training includes raising awareness of #AskforAngela among both bar staff and the public. The #AskforAngela initiative was first started by Lincolnshire Police in the UK, and is now supported by Hospitality New Zealand. It prompts patrons who need to discreetly ask for help from staff to approach the bar and ask for “Angela”. This code should then signal to staff that the patron is in need of assistance.

Hospitality New Zealand intends to promote continued training for hospitality staff in this area. Following the success of the Wellington-based Don’t Guess The Yes campaign, Hospitality New Zealand will hope to promote the campaign across the country.

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