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Monash Council project aims to make public space more inclusive for play, recreation and sport

Monash Council project aims to make public space more inclusive for play, recreation and sport
April 29, 2021

Monash Council is joining with Monash University’s gender, design and space specialists, XYX Lab, and digital consultancy, CrowdSpot, to gather perceptions of safety in public spaces.

Aiming to make real change in the Monash area, YourGround will map local streets, parks, trails and recreational spaces, sharing the often hidden experiences of safety for women and gender-diverse people.

Statistics show that movement and access is restricted for women and gender-diverse people due to fear, violence and harassment: while 80% of Australian men report feeling safe while walking alone at night, a 2019 Community Council for Australia report notes that only 50% of women say the same.

With the implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act 2020, creating inclusive spaces for women and gender-diverse people is a priority state-wide and aligns with Monash’s Health and Wellbeing Plan.

YourGround is a proactive tool to help make positive change in our shared public spaces - recognising that these spaces should be accessible to everyone. The map crowdsources data, allowing users to anonymously drop a pin, tell a story or share an experience while out for leisure, sport, exercise or play.

When collated and analysed this data will provide insights that can make Monash’s parks and sporting and community spaces more inclusive and equitable.

Whether running, picnicking, playing sport or catching up with friends, women and gender-diverse people are being asked to share their stories about where they feel safe or unsafe.

Monash Mayor Brian Little said this project would assist Council in understanding safer design principles for future planning to help make Monash more inclusive for everyone to enjoy leisure, sport and play, advising “we know that perceptions of safety can be a barrier to women, girls and gender-diverse people accessing sports and recreational opportunities and we want to make sure our future planning addresses these concerns.”.

Dr Nicole Kalms, Co-Director of XYX Lab, also explained “every Monash resident, regardless of gender, deserves to feel safe when using our public spaces.

“The ability to move freely in and around the places you live, work and play, and to feel you belong in your space and place is an essential human right. Yet, often this is denied to many on the basis of gender.

“As designers, architects, urban planners, councillors, facilitators, even equity experts, we can’t make assumptions about what women and gender-diverse people experience. XYX Lab works from lived, sometimes hidden, experiences to really make an impact. As a grassroots, crowdsourcing tool “YourGround will uncover the experiences that restrict access to exercise and freedom of movement and provide important insights to those tasked with making key decisions.”

CrowdSpot Director, Anthony Aisenberg added “CrowdSpot specialises in crowdsourced mapping projects that uncover new perspectives and untold stories, most recently the successful BikeSpot 2020.

“We know the difference that meaningful data and surprising insights can make in uncovering the contexts and situations that restrict movement. We’re keen to discover what we’ll learn on the YourGround map from women and gender-diverse people about their experiences exercising, playing sport or at leisure.”

YourGround launched on Tuesday 27th April and is running until July 2021.

Images: The City of Monash's Scotchmans Creek Trail (top) and Damper Creek Reserve playground (below). Credit: City of Monash.

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