TramLab Toolkits


‘TramLab: Improving the Safety of Women and Girls on Public Transport’ was commissioned by researchers from La Trobe University, Monash University XYX Lab and RMIT for the Victorian State Government. A major outcome was four publicly accessible Toolkits for implementing gender-sensitive processes to create safer public transport systems in Victoria.

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  • In 2019 Aiia Maasarwe was raped and murdered after she alighted a tram in the outer suburb of Bundoora. Responding to public outcry, the State Government commissioned ‘TramLab’, bringing together interdisciplinary research expertise in gendered violence and urban design to investigate the issues impacting on safety for women and girls on public transport. The research revealed that safety for women on public transport is highly complex, and impacted by multiple factors and causes. The challenge was to find a mode through which to communicate a multi-faceted and coordinated gender-sensitive approach to safer public transport experiences for women and girls.

  • TramLab generated four toolkits—underpinned by rigorous research—for implementing gender-sensitive processes that address safety for women and girls on public transport. The research revealed that no single stand-alone initiative is sufficient – any action needs to be part of an intersected approach and so the four toolkits work together. They cover communication strategies focused on women’s safety, placemaking strategies; data collection improvements; and gender-sensitive training for public transport service providers. The Toolkits identify strategies through which city planners, policy makers and urban designers can bring together the diverse knowledge required to make public transport environments safer.

  • The impact of the TramLab Toolkits is significant, and has altered the future of public transport safety both in Victoria and internationally. The Toolkits identify the essential need for considering the experiences of women and girls on and around public transport, and detail how ‘gender-neutral’ strategies—the process of enveloping all users’ safety into a single approach—does not address the real and continuing challenges faced by women and girls in public spaces. The intersected strategies provided by the Toolkits ensure that public transport systems are inclusive and therefore better patronised and more viable.

  • A key feature of the TramLab Toolkits involves the interdisciplinary nature of its approach. As designers we cannot address all the issues relevant to gendered violence without working with experts in related fields, such as those focused on violence against women, discriminatory behaviours, and public policy. The collaboration between Monash University XYX Lab, RMIT and La Trobe University brought together a unique intersection of knowledge. This was further enhanced by a major review of existing global literature and initiatives around women’s safety on public transport; interviews with stakeholders/service providers in Victoria – including women users of Public Transport; evaluation of existing data sets; and importantly a major co-design workshop in November 2019 that engaged multiple stakeholders to help inform the Toolkits. The co-design workshop was essential to the project’s success. In it, the lived experiences of women and the knowledge of other experts added key insights that cut across all the workshop themes, enabling the TramLab Team to establish the most effective and viable interventions, and ultimately the subject areas for the Toolkit series.