By Gabriella Payne
In a bid to improve community safety and inclusivity in public spaces, the Cardinia Shire Council is excited to have launched a new interactive map, allowing people to “drop a pin” in places they feel either safe or unsafe throughout the shire.
The ‘YourGround’ project is a statewide initiative, run in collaboration with Monash University’s XYX Lab, CrowdSpot and several local councils across Victoria, including Cardinia.
Anonymously, residents will be able to mark locations throughout Cardinia with a dropped pin on the interactive map, sharing either a story or experience about their feelings of safety at each particular place.
The map is already up and running, and will be open until Saturday 31 July – at which point, the information and data shared will be gathered by the council.
Once analysed, the Cardinia Shire Council hope that the data will provide valuable insights about where and how they can work towards making our region’s towns, parks and community spaces more accessible, safe and inclusive for all.
Fiona Cost, the collective impact facilitator from council’s ‘Together We Can’ initiative (a domestic violence prevention project), said that while the interactive map was more “specifically” aimed at helping women and gender diverse members of the community, men were also welcome to participate.
“Specifically, it’s for women and gender diverse people to mark on a map places where they feel safe and unsafe,” Ms Cost said.
“It is purely designed as a planning and advocacy tool – so it’s not a reporting tool, although it does give the 000 number if there are any immediate concerns.”
Statistics from a 2019 Community Council for Australia report show that while about 80% of Australian men feel safe walking alone at night – only about 50% of women say they feel the same.
Women and gender diverse people in the community often restrict their movements in public due to fears of violence and harassment – something that the Cardinia Shire Council are hoping to change.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to use the data gathered in the future to advocate for resources for things like lighting or cutting down trees or whatever it might be that is necessary for creating safer places,” Ms Cost said.
“But it’s also to promote our really wonderful places across the Shire as well!”
Ms Cost explained that if you had a favourite picnic spot or found a nice walking track (for example) and wanted to share it on the map, then by all means you could.
Cardinia Shire Council Mayor Brett Owen said that he was excited the Shire was part of this state-wide project and he hoped to see many people getting involved and dropping pins.
“The information that we hope to gather from everyone that lives in Cardinia Shire will shape our community for many years ensuring that everyone who lives, visits or works here feels safe,” Cr Owen said.
“This is our main goal and we encourage all those in the community to take part.”
YourGround will remain open until Saturday 31 July.
To drop a pin on the interactive map and share your experiences of public spaces, head to www.yourground.org