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Sexual Health and Safety at Festivals Toolkit

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Sexual Health and Safety at Festivals Toolkit

Sexual health and safety are essential to our overall health and wellbeing. We all have the right to fulfill and express our sexuality and enjoy good sexual health.

Penington Institute’s Sexual Health and Safety at Festivals Toolkit promotes the sexual health and safety of people who attend music festivals, in the context of alcohol and other drug use.

The toolkit was designed in consultation with key stakeholders involved in the Victorian music and dance scene. It is intended for use by organisers at Victorian-based music events.

In recent years, there has been increasing community attention towards sexual health and safety, particularly in the context of alcohol and other drug use. Compared with other age groups, young people often face greater sexual health and safety challenges, including an increased likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and a greater risk of experiencing sexual violence. Music and dance festivals are an important rite of passage for many young people; however, they also present several environmental and cultural factors that can increase risks to sexual health and safety, including the use of alcohol and other drugs. Research has shown that young people who attend Australian music and dance festivals consume alcohol and other drugs at higher rates than young people in the general community, increasing the risk of unsafe sex, STI and blood-borne virus transmission, and sexual violence. Hence, is it vital that music festival organisers and staff are prepared to respond to incidents of sexual violence appropriately.

The Sexual Health and Safety at Festivals Toolkit, developed by Penington Institute in consultation with stakeholders spanning sexual health promotion, peer-based harm reduction, LGBTIQ+ health, and the music festival industry, assists festival organisers in promoting the sexual health and safety of patrons before, during, and after their event.

Consultations uncovered a need for greater guidance in the promotion of harm minimisation and sexual health and safety within the festival setting. The toolkit works to empower festival organisers with the knowledge necessary to promote sexual health and safety at their festival, within the context of alcohol and other drug use. It provides organisers with a framework to incorporate sexual health and safety considerations when planning and running their event.

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The toolkit is structured around five key pillars:

Commit
Make a commitment to promoting sexual health and safety at your festival, decide how you will do this in practice and then let everyone know.
Engage
Encourage patrons to think about and take steps to look after their sexual health and safety before, during and after attending your festival.
Make it easy for patrons who have questions or concerns about their sexual health and safety to find suitable help at your festival.
Establish and document clear processes and procedures for responding to incidents of sexual violence that occur at your festival.
Ensure all festival personnel share your commitment to sexual health and safety and know how to respond when any form of harm is witnessed or disclosed.

The toolkit also contains a directory of key contacts and other resources.

To accompany these efforts, Penington Institute published factsheets to strengthen knowledge among festival patrons of sexual consent, bystander intervention, safer sex, sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, and respectful relationships. Music festivals offer a unique opportunity to reach young people with positive messaging and information to empower them to make safer choices regarding sex and the use of alcohol and other drugs. Given that music festivals are environments that help shape young people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour, they also play an important role in fostering a broader culture of safety, respect, and equality.

In addition to conveying vital information and knowledge, these factsheets provide readers with contact details for key sexual health organisations and emergency personal, to encourage health seeking by young people for sexual health issues.

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