Emma Hastings, Moreland Leader
A BRUNSWICK bartender who has been grabbed, followed home, pinned against the bar and assaulted says sexual harassment in the hospitality industry needs to stop.
Nicola Keating has been working in hospitality since she was 18 and has dealt with sexual abuse and harassment throughout her career.
Ms Keating, who is the face of a new campaign aiming to stamp out sexual harassment in the industry, said there had been several times she feared for her safety.
“People have called me names, assumed ownership of me, to outright assault and stalking,” Ms Keating said.
“I was pinned against the bar and violated by a customer with no retribution.”
A survey by hospitality industry union United Voice has revealed almost 90 per cent of respondents had been sexually harassed at work and 19 per cent had been sexually assaulted in the workplace.
The union has started a campaign, Respect Is The Rule, for venues, workers and patrons to sign up to a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and abuse in the hospitality industry.
Ten Moreland venues have signed up to the campaign, displaying posters stating sexual harassment will not be tolerated and supporting staff and patrons to stand up to perpetrators and have them removed.
Howler Bar and Theatre, where Ms Keating works, was one of the first to sign up.
General manager Graham Espie said his venue had a zero-tolerance policy on harassment.
“We want a place where people feel comfortable to have a conversation,” Mr Espie said.
“It does highlight that what could be a joke to you could be deeply hurtful to someone else.”
Moreland councillors voted to support the campaign at last month’s meeting.
Councillor Sue Bolton called on other venues to join the campaign.
“Moreland has a thriving pubs and clubs scene and that makes a campaign like this all the more important,” Cr Bolton said.