Opening its first satellite office in Victoria, the Good Night Out program seeks to tackle prevention and response to sexual violence
Good Night Out is a new asset to Victoria’s bars, clubs, and restaurants in helping raise awareness about, respond to, and prevent sexualized and gender-based violence in Victoria’s nightlife scene.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 34 242 police-reported sexual assaults in Canada in 2021, the highest rate since 1996. And because offences of this type are often significantly underreported, that number is likely to be much higher in reality.
As a non-profit organization, Good Night Out looks for solutions to this problem.
Good Night Out Vancouver started out in 2015 as a campaign dedicated to spreading awareness in regard to the links between alcohol and substance consumption, sexual aggression, and the pervasiveness of sexual assault in city nightlife.
The campaign has now expanded its vision to promote safer environments in the hospitality industry through education and collaboration with local nightlife establishments. In September 2022, Good Night Out opened its first satellite office in Victoria, offering hospitality businesses on Vancouver Island both virtual and in-person training in sexual violence prevention.
In collaboration with the Ending Violence Association of B.C., Good Night Out has created a foundational course for people in hospitality to become more educated about sexual violence prevention and safety. The course, termed “Training in Prevention and Safety (TIPS)”, is optional and free, intended for both employees and employers. It includes an overview of legislation and modules “on how to strengthen workplace culture, how to recognize and respond to incidents, [and] how to support those impacted.”
Behind this organization are educators like Stacey Forrester, Alex Kiersted, Chelsey Thorpe, and Megan Hopkins.
The Good Night Out program had been in the middle of a Canada-wide implementation and even a small venture into the U.S. before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In response to the widespread business closures, the Good Night Out team shifted its focus towards providing workshops for local communities.
Hopkins describes how providing education and creating partnerships with Victoria’s industries is important in terms of situational interventions, such as in cases where an overly intoxicated person is being taken advantage of. The organization’s goal is to help both employees and employers become better at recognizing the situational factors that enable sexual violence and to empower them to feel more qualified to intervene in potentially unsafe circumstances instead of allowing the warning signs to go unnoticed.
Good Night Out has partnered with and trained the staff of numerous Victoria nightlife companies such as Vancouver Island Brewing, Phillips Brewing, Whistle Buoy Brewing, and Leopold’s Tavern.
On top of partnering with local establishments, Good Night Out is conducting a survey in order to gain more insight into what the Victoria community needs, how the organization can fill in the gaps, what kinds of mitigation may be needed, and, overall, how to help people better understand sexual violence.
“We want to find out what people’s perceptions of safety are in the community,” says Hopkins, “and we want to be able to provide clear, accessible information to the public on the current experiences of safety — mostly in the downtown core, where nightlife is more happening — and then use this data to provide a report for the city of Victoria, and … for the community to help advocate for more focus on safety in hospitality and nightlife in the city.”
The survey will remain open until Dec. 30 for all in Victoria who want to participate and who want to have their voices heard.
Hopkins also encourages people to follow their Instagram page and to suggest or tag organizations that would benefit from the training modules offered. According to her, their social media network has become a platform for people to voice their negative experiences with a company, and with the knowledge in hand, Good Night Out has been able to bridge the gap and reach out to those establishments.
Going into the holiday season, Hopkins reflects on a few safety tips that can help make sure everyone has an enjoyable and safe celebration, such as serving non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative to alcoholic ones at holiday parties and carrying naloxone kits for emergencies.
Ultimately, Hopkins notes that normalizing consent in everyday situations is the best way to keep everyone safe and respected, for the holiday season and beyond.