Content warning: This story contains discussion of sexual assault.
Boogie Festival says its staff will undergo further sexual assault disclosure response training after Kelly Day of the Melbourne band Broads alleged she was assaulted at their 2017 event.
Day published an article in Junkee yesterday (March 18), detailing an alleged incident in which a man familiar to her and a woman she did not know grabbed her in a crowd while Jen Cloher played on stage at the 2017 edition of the Victorian festival.
“The duo hugged me from either side and pulled my pants down far enough for both of them to shove their hands in,” Day wrote. “The assault was brief, and after an initial paralytic shock I pushed them away and dove back into the crowd.”
Per her account, when Day attended the festival again in 2019 she saw the man who had allegedly assaulted her in 2017, who was now alone. Day posted about her frustrations to Facebook. Boogie Festival subsequently contacted Day, she said, and invited her to discuss the alleged incident with them.
“A folder of festival policies was retrieved, [a member of Boogie Festival’s staff] couldn’t recall if they had one on sexual assault. Another woman joined the conversation — she had clocked off and was not pleased… I was asked: ‘What exactly do you want us to do about this? He bought a ticket. We can’t exactly kick him out’,” Day wrote.
“Oh, and: ‘It didn’t happen this year? I think you need to be a bit more understanding. People can really change in two years.'”
Day said the festival suggested she could file a police report, but she did not. In a statement appended to Day’s article in Junkee, Boogie Festival – which is due to take place from April 2 to 4 – said it was “devastated there was an alleged incident of sexual assault at our festival in 2017” and that it “take[s] this situation extremely seriously”.
“We do not tolerate or condone any kind of harassment, assault, violence or aggressive behaviour at Boogie or beyond its fences. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable,” the statement read.
Boogie listed a number of its measures to ensure safety and wellbeing on-site, writing, “Our management staff are trained in sexual assault protocols and procedures. We have 24-hour medical staff support and facilities, site office and security guards from gates open to gates close. We also have a 24-hour Patron Safety Hotline. We work closely with police and ambulance and have a direct line to them during the event.”
The festival said this year its staff would “undergo further response disclosure training”, and that it would bring back a crowd care team called the Boogie Angels. It also said it was “working on more initiatives to be announced in the coming weeks”.
“We will also continue to actively promote and encourage respect towards one another through all communications in the lead up and throughout the festival,” it added. Boogie Festival also called for anyone who sees or experiences “any kind of anti-social behaviour” at the festival to report it via the aforementioned Patron Safety Hotline or to a member of staff or security.
Day responded to Boogie Festival’s statement on Instagram, calling for a target of zero assaults at all Australian festivals.
“This means proactive messaging and zero tolerance for behaviour that makes women or anyone else feel uncomfortable or unsafe,” she wrote. “Many of my friends are playing or attending this year. I’d ask you to carry this message at the event so that victims do not have to carry it alone.”
Speaking to NME afterward, Day emphasised the importance of festivals “taking responsibility and proactively minimising risk”.
“This could mean regular announcements during the festival,” she said. “A ‘no creeps’ policy attached to the ticket purchase like Boogie’s ‘no dickheads’ policy. Signage around the campsites, and training for volunteers and bar staff to include spotting harassment as part [of] their duty of care.”
Boogie Festival is due to take place from April 2 to 4 at Our Friend’s Farm in Tallarook, Victoria. The festival had announced a postponement to the Easter Weekend 2021 in September 2020.