A website and Instagram account – Not So Hospitable – addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault in Adelaide’s hospitality industry launched this week.
Less than 17 hours on, founder and hospitality worker Jamie Bucirde had received 56 testimonials from people – overwhelmingly women – who have experienced harassment or assault by co-workers, managers or employers. Two days on, that number had risen to 193.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now and it’s been brewing in my mind,” Bucirde tells Broadsheet. “I’ve worked in hospitality for a really long time, I’ve seen [harassment] first-hand, I’ve experienced it. I’m very aware of how prevalent it is.
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“But a lot of people don’t know where to go or how to report it. And a lot of reports, if they’ve been made, are getting brushed under the rug.”
Testimonials can be submitted via the website, and you can remain anonymous. The objective is to collect stories – from people of all genders – to highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in the local hospitality industry. And to discuss solutions.
“The same names keep popping up,” says Bucirde. “And that’s the issue. You could name the top five people who keep getting away with this. And it’s the top end down. Because if it’s not the venue owners or employers, it’s the managers.”
Bucirde, who is also studying sexology at university (“My drive is to get into the consent and education space”), ultimately wants to open a dialogue with local government bodies to create change.
“The point is to stimulate conversation within our community, spark a bit of change, and start talking about what the solutions are,” she says. “Because at the end of the day, hospitality is really under-resourced, especially during Covid. There’s a lot of pressure put on the venue specifically to deal with [sexual assault], and most of these [operators] are out of their depth. They actually don’t know what to do themselves.
“There’s a union already, and there’s Fair Work SA, which covers homophobia or racial slurs, and it does cover sexual assault too, but I think there needs to be a separate body specially for this because it’s so prevalent … And it’s not getting better. It’s the highest it’s ever been.”
The number of sexual assault victims recorded by Australian police increased 13 per cent in 2021, the 10th annual rise in a row, according to the bureau of statistics.
“Another thing is how do you mediate and monitor an industry that has so many facets?” Bucirde continues. “Because hospitality is bars, restaurants, clubs, festivals, cafes … There are so many different areas where this is happening.”
The answer, according to Bucirde, involves direct government intervention. “It comes with legislation, it comes with mandated training. Venues shouldn’t be able to operate without having mandated trainings on sexual assault and how to report [it] … it should be as prioritised as Covid training.”
Venues also need to be given tools to help deal with the problem. “There needs to be some kind of body funded by the government that goes to these venues and teaches people how to identify toxic workplace culture, how to identity sexual assault and harassment, what coercion is,” she says. “There needs to be an educational platform, instead of just finger-pointing and blaming.”
If you would like to speak with someone about an experience you have had, or would like information, please call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. Not So Hospitable has also listed a number of local resources on its website.
This article was updated on August 18, 2022 to reflect the current number of testimonials.