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Success! WWYW petition off to Parliament after securing 20,000 signatures


Newcastle-based What Were You Wearing (WWYW) has done it.

The not-for-profit organisation successfully reached 20,000 signatures on its recent petition, calling for mandatory drink spiking and sexual violence training for security and bar staff in all licensed venues in NSW.

And, in the process, WWYW founder Sarah Williams became one of the youngest people to have such an entreaty debated in Parliament.

The petition will now be discussed by the state’s politicians in June.

“I’m immensely proud of the team for its efforts in pushing this through,” Ms Williams said.

“They’ve worked hard for weeks throughout the local community and across the state.

“When we first launched the petition at the end of 2022, we could have never imagined the response that we received.”

What Were You Wearing founder Sarah Williams. Photo: Joshua Hogan and Phoebe Metcalfe

In fact, the 2023 Newcastle Local Woman of the Year admitted “her younger self” wouldn’t envisaged a result like this.

“The campaign hasn’t been easy,” Ms Williams said.

“I’ve received death threats and hateful messages.

“But, it’s been with the overwhelming help of the community that I’ve been able to push through those challenges.

“I have collected more than 14,000 stories from survivors of sexual violence among nightlife, the music industry and drink spiking.

“I strongly believe this will save lives… and we plan to embed on a national level very soon.”

The petition aims to reform the RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) legislation to ensure all security and bar staff at nightclubs are properly trained in drink spiking and sexual violence prevention, along with the skills to assist patrons in the event of these crimes occurring within these venues.

Providing spiking prevention kits, educational resources and posters in establishments, which will help to enhance patron safety and awareness of the issue, is also a priority for the petitioners.

International advocate Keirki Kassas said she was expecting Parliament to take the matter seriously – and make a change.

“This does not only concern young women,” she stated.

“I’m beyond happy this petition has a chance of making a change to thousands of people across NSW.

“We’ve heard people’s spiking stories, it’s now time for our Parliament to take action.”

WWYW vice-president of media and marketing Marcie Cheers said the support from the community had been overwhelming.

“Going into this campaign, we knew drink spiking was a real issue,” she explained.

“However, to hear it directly from people we’ve met over the past few months is a whole different ball game.

“We’ve had individuals approach us at events, very emotional, thanking us for all the hard work we’re doing.

“I think you know in the back of your mind that this is going to be huge.

“But, it’s incredibly rewarding when the people you meet are thanking you for making a change.”

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