20 December 2023

Improvements to three Wollongong centres to improve safety for women, gender diverse people

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A group of people walking along a Port Kembla street.

Community members walked through Port Kembla to better understand what made them feel unsafe. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Three Wollongong town centres will be the focus of trial initiatives to improve safety in public areas and transport hubs for women, girls and gender diverse people.

‘Safer Cities: Her Way’ is a partnership project between Transport for NSW and Wollongong City Council and will be rolled out in Port Kembla and Dapto town centres and MacCabe Park in Wollongong.

It will run from December until the end of April 2024, when the council will seek community feedback.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said earlier this year the council had asked women, girls and gender diverse people to review the three locations and provide feedback on where they felt unsafe and why.

“We also worked with Wollongong Police and community volunteers to run several day and night walks through the spaces and co-design workshops to generate ideas,” he said.

“We’ve taken this feedback and developed a project plan, which Transport for NSW has given the green light.”

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“By taking a community-orientated approach, we’re able to work with the people who intimately know these spaces to develop interventions that are useful,” he added.

“An example of this in practice is looking at Port Kembla. Community members there told us that Port Kembla Town Centre already has a great nightlife, what they needed was for the council to improve the amenity of the streets to make it feel safer to travel to and from the train station to the town centre.”

Trial initiatives in Port Kembla will include new lighting along Darcy Rd and Wentworth St to reduce shadows and help make people feel safer.

New wayfinding signage will be installed to help people travel to and from the train station, and the council will commission an artist for artwork to be placed on the concrete anchors of lighting installed around the station.

Wollongong MP and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said it was crucial for everyone to feel safe in public spaces.

“It is essential when providing public open spaces and active transport routes that consideration is taken to make sure that everyone can feel safe and welcome in these spaces,” he said.

“Too often girls, women and gender diverse people can feel unsafe in our community – and this can so often be solved with simple changes to amenities like increased lighting, greater line of sight through open spaces, and more accessible connections between public transport and the places that people want to visit.”

In Dapto town centre, live music and an open-air cinema will be introduced. Sounds in the Square will be held on Fridays from 5 pm to 7 pm, and Cinema in the Square will be held on the third Friday of the month from 8:30 pm.

New lighting will be installed to reduce shadows and help people feel safer, including LEDs, fairy lights and mood lighting. The damaged shade sail will be replaced and a temporary stage will be built for live music events.

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The council has called for expressions of interest from musicians, singers and instrumentalists to be part of Sounds in the Square. Visit the council’s website for more information.

In MacCabe Park, lighting will be upgraded and landscaping work will be done to improve lines of sight.

Activities will be introduced, including a weekly Picnic in the Park on Thursday nights, with music, food, and art events for women, girls and gender diverse people aged 12 to 24 years.

Exercise in the Park for women and girls of all ages will be held on Tuesdays from 9:30 am to 10:30 am (excluding public holidays and over the Christmas and New Year period), and Cinema in the Park will be on the third Saturday of the month from 8:30 pm, which everyone is welcome to attend.

Transport for NSW Executive Director Cities Revitalisation and Place Brooke Wharton said a state-wide Safer Cities Survey conducted earlier this year found that women were twice as likely not to feel safe in public spaces at night compared to men, and women outside metropolitan areas felt even less safe.

“The positive impact of Safer Cities: Her Way funding is evident in supporting trial initiatives and activations directly addressing these concerns. This effort aims to boost vibrancy and improve pedestrian connections in public spaces and at transport hubs in Wollongong CBD, Dapto, and Port Kembla Town Centres,” she said.

For more information about the upcoming events, follow the City of Wollongong Facebook page or visit the council’s website.

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