Sarah Williams, Founder of not-for-profit organisation, What Were You Wearing, has become one of the youngest people to have a petition debated in parliament.
What Were You Wearing has successfully reached 20,000 signatures on their recent petition launched to mandate training for spiking and sexual violence, for all bar and security staff in New South Wales.
The petition aims to reform the RSA (responsible service of alcohol) training to ensure that 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 venues that will help to enhance patron safety and awareness of the issue is also a priority for the petitioners.
Sarah said that the team have worked for weeks to spread the petition through the local community and across the state.
“I’m immensely proud of the team for their efforts in pushing the petition,” Sarah said.
“When we first launched the petition at the end of 2022, we could have never imagined the response that we received.
“My younger self would never have imagined something like this. The campaign hasn’t been easy. 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 over 14,000 stories from survivors of sexual violence amongst nightlife, the music industry and drink spiking.
“This petition will save lives, and we plan to embed it on a national level very soon.”
International Advocate, Keirki Kassas said that she’s expecting the parliament to take this spiking issue seriously and make a change.
“This does not only concern young women and that’s something that needs to be reminded in parliament.
“I’m beyond happy that this petition has a chance of making it to parliament and 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.”
The community have had a great response to the petition. Vice President of Media and Marketing, Marcie Cheers said the support from the community has been overwhelming.
“Going into this campaign, we knew drink spiking was a real issue in the community, but to hear it directly from people we’ve met over the past few months is a whole different ball game,” Marcie said.
“We’ve had people 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.”
The petition will be debated in Parliament in June.