In the chilling aftermath of violent attacks against women across Australia, comes the all-too-familiar despair from a chorus of voices on talkback radio and on social media.
What can be done to make people safe? Prayer vigils, mountains of floral tributes for the deceased, extra policing and warnings peak and subside until the next attack.
A Canberra woman with a rising profile for calm strategic action, Stephenie Rodriguez has stepped up with a non-violent, practical solution.
Collaborating with a security specialist, Ms Rodriguez has developed WanderSafe, a palm-sized device which is throwing light, noise and instant connection over the problem of violence against vulnerable people.
Ms Rodriguez is about to help people who face the potential threat of an unexpected attack as she faced herself one night in a strange country, which was the catalyst for WanderSafe.
A prolific traveller to more than 50 countries, and an award-winning digital strategist, Ms Rodriguez will speak on personal safety at a networking event being hosted by Strata Community Australia, ACT chapter. Her audience will hear of a plan, the tools and mind-set available to avoid being attacked.
“My advisor, who is a CIA counter terrorism retired expert, taught me as part of his mentorship that the best fight anyone has is the one they don’t show up for, because you always win,” Ms Rodriguez says. “You always win the one you are better prepared for, the one that doesn’t happen, no matter what gender you are.”
The WanderSafe device is small enough to be hand held. It has four features designed to disorient and scare an assailant, giving you enough time to save a life, deter an assault, rape or human trafficking from occurring. The features include:
- easy access bright flashlight
- clinically disorienting bright flashing strobe lights
- 140-decibel sound alarm with sirens
- an activation button that notifies your three emergency contacts with your location.
Launched on International Day of Non-Violence and Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday to underline its non-violent features, WanderSafe has been embraced across the globe.
“We have done in-flight sales on Etihad Airways, it is sold in seven stores in Changi Singapore Airport, and two stores in Kuala Lumpur Airport, “says Ms Rodriguez. “We have managed both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales since we launched and shipped in February,” she says.
“So, we haven’t been in the market place that long, but it is exciting to see we are in 34 countries right now being used,” she says.
Ms Rodriguez says the statistics around women and violent solutions show tasers and pepper spray are imperfect, because there is no training on best practice on how to administer pepper spray.
“It only takes you one time to get it wrong, you have done it to yourself. It puts you at risk as the user and bearer, because somebody can wrestle that away from you. At least I know I am not going to pepper spray in my own eyes, rather than take a risk and have a go.”
WanderSafe is for men too. “There is nothing about the WanderSafe product packaging or positioning that says it is for females alone because we have found that men of different ages and sizes really like that,” Ms Rodriguez says.
But personal safety goes beyond just the physical element. Long hours at the office and a demanding career can take its toll on one’s mental health, which is as concerning. At the networking event hosted by Strata Community Australia, speakers including Ms Rodriguez will discuss employer duty of care, employee mental health, the beauty of social impact business and how strata management companies can better look after their teams of strata managers.
Strata Community Australia ACT chapter president Chris Miller says people in the strata industry work under incredibly stressful circumstances, with often combative customers and clients, who have varying degrees of understanding of the job a strata manager does in the first place.
“Late nights, late meetings, whether or not they are in any physical danger, they are certainly being immersed in what can often be a day or week or month of aggression and this takes a toll. It carries with it a heavy mental price,” he says.
“Being able to understand, and to have strategies around managing that yourself is an important step to take, once we have addressed the imminent personal safety problems,” he says.
Mr Miller, who is Managing Director of Vantage Strata, says all current and future staff will receive a WanderSafe device and training on personal safety. “Walking a tightrope feels very different when you are aware of the safety net underneath,” he says.
Take action for your own safety, and get an insight into what can be done to make you safe at work by enjoying an informative evening with Strata Community Australia.
What: Strata Community Australia ACT chapter networking event
When: 27 June, from 5 pm – 7 pm
Where: Kokomo’s, 1 Genge Street, Canberra
Cost: $56 for SCA members $86 for non-member
Registrations close June 21 at 5 pm.
Purchase tickets from the SCA website.
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