Preventing Sexual Assault: There’s an App for That

30 April 2013

Students returning to campus this year now have access to UniSafe—a smartphone app designed to increase safety on campus. The app bundles existing resources and facilities, giving students easier access to key services such as security escorts, blue safety telephone locations and emergency lines.

The app includes a personal safety toolbox, which can set off a shrill alarm, or send your location co-ordinates to family and friends.

Safer Community Program Manager Sally Coates touts the My Personal Safety Checklist as the best feature of the app.

“We’re about preventative action, and encouraging students to trust and act on their instincts. I’d encourage everyone to have a read.”

The app is a major project of the Safer Community Program. The program, opened last April, aims to cut through a complex system of student welfare services, in order to provide students with a single point of contact.

Coupled with the app, Ms Coates hopes to see the Safer Communities Facebook page and website become a centralised hub of information.

“Everyone has responsibility and ownership to the creation of a safer student community. Community is not just geographically defined, but about the students themselves.”

The Wom*n’s Department is also dedicated to campus safety, with self-defence classes planned for female students starting later this year.

Amy Jenkins, UMSU Wom*n’s Officer, points to Tin Alley on the north edge of campus as a trouble spot nicknamed ‘Rape Alley’ by older students. “As with anything the University offers, it’s up to students to make the choice to use those services.”

One student told Farrago of uneasiness when walking through campus alone after dark, especially near The Spot and Law Building away from the main campus.

“So far I’m fine with having my parents or friends on speed dial. I might use some of the app functions like the alarm though.”

The app follows the lead of similar services overseas, but its usefulness is limited to those who own a smartphone. The University says that they will not become complacent and that provision of existing security and lighting at night will remain unchanged, desptie spending on the app.

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