Download The Wellington App for more stories like this.

Don’t Guess the YES campaign launches today

A campaign continuing the drive to change attitudes and behaviours around alcohol consumption and sexual consent launched today in Wellington.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Ben Quinn

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington branch has joined forces with Wellington Police and the Wellington City Council for the Don’t Guess the Yes campaign, with support from Sexual Assault Prevention Network, Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association and Massey University Students’ Association.

Wellington Area CIB are permanently dedicating four investigators to continue the initiative, and more than 50 Wellington hospitality businesses have signed to the campaign, sending out a clear message that sexual assault isn’t tolerated in the capital.

To spread the message, billboards are going up around the CBD and 250 Don’t Guess the Yes T-shirts have been distributed to hospitality staff.

The purpose of the campaign is to proactively try to prevent sexual assault, abuse and harassment by educating both the public and bar staff on issues surrounding consent and alcohol consumption.

It builds on the#betterdecisions campaign from the 2017 festive season, which urged party season revellers to think about the impact alcohol has on decision-making and consent, and to make better decisions while on a night out.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Ben Quinn, who heads the team behind the Don’t Guess the Yes campaign, says the initiative is innovative and unique.

“This concept is designed to prevent adult sexual assault offending and victimisation by encouraging people to change their attitudes around sexual consent and alcohol consumption.

“This festive season we want the public to make good decisions around sexual consent and alcohol consumption before, during, and after their nights out and work parties.

“This means making sure you have consent for any sexual contact from a partner who is sober enough to give it. It means asking them questions like, ‘Is this OK?’ ‘Shall we do this?’ ‘Should we keep going?’

“It means respecting your partner if the answer is No.”

“We all want Wellington to be a safe place to socialise. With this initiative we’re sending a clear message that sexual assault and abuse won’t be tolerated in our city,” says Quinn.

Training is part of the campaign, giving hospitality sector staff the skills and confidence to identify problematic situations, and empowering them to help patrons who might be at risk. This includes #AskforAngela, an internationally recognised system for patrons who feel unsafe to discreetly ask staff for help.

The #AskforAngela initiative was first started by Lincolnshire Police in the UK, and is now supported by Hospitality New Zealand. It prompts patrons who need to discreetly ask for help from staff to approach the bar and ask for “Angela”. This code should then signal to staff that the patron is in need of assistance.

This year’s first hospitality training session at Jack Hackett’s in June was an “amazing success” according to Hospitality New Zealand Wellington Branch President and MD of Hoff Hospitality Group Matt Mclaughlin, with 120 of Wellington’s bar staff turning up voluntarily.

“After that, I realised there was a fantastic opportunity here to take this a step further and promote our sexual assault training citywide. The hospitality industry has a strong social conscience, and we want to make a positive difference to our community,” said Mclaughlin.

The Don’t Guess the Yes campaign is being shared on social media, with posters installed in bars around the city. The posters are dual-sided, with the bar-facing side displaying reminders of how staff can prevent harm or intervene in a possibly risky situation.