The state government will roll out the internationally recognised “Ask for Angela” safety campaign in Adelaide’s CBD, hoping to prevent sexual assaults in the city.

The program, which was born two years ago in England’s Lincolnshire, encourages patrons to approach any staff member at participating venues and “ask for Angela” if they feel unsafe or have been put in a compromising situation. The sentence acts as a code to discreetly alert trained staff, who then escort the affected person to safety or contact authorities for further assistance.

After successful trials in NSW, the program will be rolled out across multiple late-night venues in Adelaide’s CBD with the help of the SA Police and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA).

“A fun night out should be just that – a fun night out,” attorney general Vickie Chapman said in a statement. “However, in some cases, things can take a dark turn, and people may feel at risk and isolated or afraid to seek help.

“Ask for Angela gives patrons at participating venues a simple way to seek assistance if they feel at all at risk.”

Participating venues will display signage in discreet locations to indicate they are taking part in the program. Venues interested in taking part can find out more here.

STAY IN THE KNOW
Get our pick of the best news, features and events delivered twice a week

SA Police (SAPOL) chief inspector Richard Lambert said SAPOL is "supportive of this community safety initiative". “Making the wider public, staff and other patrons aware of this program, encouraging them to embrace it and act appropriately is another step forward in preventing sexual violence in our community.”

In the UK not everyone is supportive of the campaign. “Feminists and violence-against-women campaigners have argued that putting the onus on women to protect themselves ‘discreetly’ misses the point and contributes to victim blaming,” Chitra Ramaswamy wrote in the Guardian.

Paige Aubort, founder of Coleman's Academy – a non-profit dedicated to helping women in the male-dominated bartending industry – and former group operations manager for the Mary's group, disagrees.

“From our perspective, it puts the onus on the venue: how to train staff right and make them conscious of what to look out for," Aubort told Broadsheet Sydney earlier this year. "If women aren’t feeling safe in a venue it’s our priority to look out for them.

“I think the issue of sexual harassment in public spaces against women and in ... venues is something we have to be proactive about. It’s continuing the conversation women have been having but in a public forum, and finally puts the onus on men with shitty behaviour.”