There have been a number of conversations recently in the Burner community about how Burning Seed handles sexual assault allegations. We wanted to clarify the policies and procedures we have in place as well as our initiatives in this very sensitive area.
All forms of sexual assault, harassment and/or violence are unacceptable and are not tolerated at Burning Seed. Burning Seed is committed to challenging and preventing sexual assault and violence by creating Australia's first sexual assault response team at any burn or festival. Burning Seed is committed to creating a safe environment for everyone during the annual event. Sexual Assault is unlawful and we will ensure that every report will be treated sensitively, promptly, seriously and confidentially. The victim’s well-being and safety is paramount.
The Role of P.E.E.R Rangers
At Burning Seed, our P.E.E.R Rangers are available 24 hours per day to support victims of emotional and/or psychological distress. All P.E.E.R Rangers are highly qualified, trained and experienced in managing and responding to these incidents. Burning Seed has every confidence in the team to act in a professional and ethical manner at all times.
As their work is focused on victim support, P.E.E.R Rangers are not responsible for ejecting or banning anyone from the event. In the event of an incident(s) where an ejection might be required for the safety of participants, the decision is made by the on-duty Rangers Lead and Site Manager on the day of the report.
As well as dealing with any issues that occur at Burning Seed, our P.E.E.R Rangers are also committed to onsite community education and awareness of respectful relationships and achieve this via Porta-a-Loo posters, badges displaying positive messages and creatively engaging the community at the Gate and Greeters stations through information dissemination to participants.
The scope of their work does not extend beyond the event - this includes private fundraising parties. However, outside of the event the P.E.E.R Rangers have chosen to have an educational role and provide up to date info and awareness to the Burning Seed community regarding positive relationships, respectful interactions, bystander intervention strategies and addressing harmful attitudes. This is achieved through regular blog posts to the official Burning Seed website and the official Burning Seed Facebook page as well as detailed info in our Survival Guide and What, Where, When (WWW) Guide.
The reporting line and chain of accountability is such that P.E.E.R team members report directly to the Team Lead of P.E.E.R, who reports to the Site Safety Facilitator, who reports to the Event Coordinator.
All retroactive incident reports or incident reports from off-site events should be directed to the local police for further follow up. Upon request the P.E.E.R. team will continue to provide support and/or counselling details to victims. They will also continue to use retroactive reports to gather data on the trends of the behaviour of our community onsite, to help with ongoing training of P.E.E.R Rangers and to assist with education and awareness campaigns for the wider community.
Disclosures and Reporting of Sexual Assault:
All reports of sexual assault made to Burning Seed will be responded to in a non-judgmental, supportive, positive and empathic manner regardless of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, cultural identity, religion, disability, age or any other protected characteristic.
In the event that a participant reports sexual assault, harassment or violence during the event, a Ranger and/or P.E.E.R Ranger must be contacted. The Burning Seed Emergency Response Protocol will then be enacted and followed by relevant Lead Rangers, Event Coordinators and Site Managers. P.E.E.R Rangers and/or Senior Rangers will then follow the Red Earth Ranger Standard Operating Procedure document. All incidents are recorded on an official Incident Report form.
What happens next:
- If the victim decides to make a report to NSW Police, they will be supported to do so without judgment or influence of Burning Seed.
- The victim has the right to withdraw the report at any time throughout the process without consequence. The victim has the right to choose not to be a part of any police investigation that may occur.
- If Burning Seed believes that the immediate safety of others is at risk, Burning Seed has the right to eject participants. At least one participant was ejected at the 2015 event after a report of harassment was made to P.E.E.R Rangers.
- Burning Seed may still inform law enforcement if we believe that participant safety is at risk, even if the victim has exercised their right to withdraw a complaint. The confidentiality and anonymity of the person(s) affected will be prioritised in these circumstances.
All reports to Rangers must be made by the person affected. No third party reports will be accepted, however a third party can support the victim to make a report.
If a report is withdrawn by the original reporter, the matter is deemed resolved and closed and no further action is taken (except in cases whereby Burning Seed believes that the immediate safety of other participants is at risk). If the reporter and Burning Seed arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome, then the matter is deemed resolved and the matter is closed.
Burning Seed Commitment
Burning Seed aims to help keep participants safe at all times and alongside our dedicated team of P.E.E.R rangers is the support of paid contracted onsite services. This includes First Aid (Medics) and Event Security who are onsite for the duration of the event. NSW Police are available upon request for urgent matters and make regular visits to the site during the event.
Burning Seed is committed to:
- Assisting those who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual violence by providing choices, information and support such as assisting victims to access medical care, legal options and information about counselling options.
- Ensuring those who have been sexually assaulted are treated with dignity, respect and compassion and are supported throughout the event if they wish to make a disclosure to law enforcement.
- Engaging the community in education and prevention campaigns including breaking myths surrounding sexual assault and addressing harmful attitudes towards sexual assault and harassment.
- Ensuring that members of the P.E.E.R Ranger team are kept up to date with relevant policy and legislative changes that relate to sexual assault in NSW and that training guidelines are in accordance with the principles of the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA).
- Ensuring sensitive and identifying information regarding sexual assault is kept confidential at all times.
Burning Seed aims to exercise care to protect and respect the rights of the victim and alleged perpetrator(s) at all times. Burning Seed update and review their policies and procedures annually.
We thank you for taking the time to read this latest post and can’t wait to see you at Burning Seed 2018.
If you have been affected by sexual assault, harassment or violence and need someone to talk to, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Family Domestic Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732 or visit their website by clicking here.