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NSW Parliament supports WWYW’s petition to prevent drink spiking

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Newcastle-based advocacy organisation What Were You Wearing (WWYW) certainly made its mark in NSW Parliament this week.

After the local group presented its petition, which boasted more than 20,000 signatures, the NSW Legislative Assembly gave its cross-party support to increase awareness of drink spiking and sexual violence prevention measures.

It follows on from WWYW’s decision to “take a stand” almost two years ago, due to the alarming rise of incidents throughout the Hunter.

What Were You Wearing founder Sarah Williams, and fellow advocates, with Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and other politicians at NSW Parliament.

The petition, launched at the end of 2022, called for several actions, including mandatory drink spiking and sexual violence prevention training for bar and security staff, and educational resources to assist with patron safety and awareness.

And, a thrilled WWYW founder Sarah Williams admitted it was “only the beginning”.

“Reports of drink spiking are going up but we know that for every incident that is reported, there are so many more that are not,” she said.

“We need to be doing everything that we can.

“To prevent drink spiking and ensure that all reports are taken seriously, and anyone who may have been spiked is treated with compassion and care.

“We’ll keep campaigning and educating venues to make change, prevent sexual violence and save lives.”

NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said the government was committed to preventing drink spiking and ensuring victims were given the support they needed.

“I thank the WWYW team for its advocacy, awareness and education,” he stated.

“Drink spiking is a criminal offence, which can have an immense physical and mental health impact on victims.

“Boosting NSW’s reputation as a global nightlife destination is a priority of our government and we will continue to implement important education and prevention strategies to stop drink spiking, so people can feel confident and safe when they go out.

“A collaborative and coordinated effort is required to build a vibrant and safe night life across NSW.”

NSW Minister for the Hunter and Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp praised WWYW for its whole-hearted approach to make a difference.

“They are fierce advocates for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence,” he said.

“I’m very proud to have sponsored their petition to the NSW Parliament.

“When someone goes to a licensed venue, they should be able to do so without fear of having their drink spiked and becoming unwell or being subjected to sexual violence.

“The work underway by the NSW Government and many venues to improve awareness and training speaks to the success of WWYW’s activism.

“We will keep working with them and all stakeholders to further prevent drink spiking and sexual violence.”

WWYW’s crusade has already shown signs of success, with Liquor and Gaming NSW currently refreshing their Responsible Service of Alcohol and Licensee training to clarify and add content relating to drink spiking; adding drink spiking guidance to the Liquor Intoxication Guidelines; and exploring awareness campaign options.

The Newcastle CBD Liquor Accord has also updated its drink spiking policy to better equip venue and security staff to handle reports of drink spiking.

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