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Melbourne’s first female pedestrian lights in time for International Women’s Day

John Masanauskas, March 7, 2017 6:00PM Herald Sun

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VICTORIA’S pedestrian* crossings would have equal numbers of female and male walking signals under a new push for gender equality*.

But some people think that the plan is unnecessary and would be a waste of time and money.

The Committee for Melbourne says having only green or red shapes of men at lights is unfair to women and girls.

The Committee for Melbourne is a group of people who work in senior roles in a variety of areas, such as business, transport and community organisations, who love Melbourne and want to make it an even better city.

The Equal Crossings campaign* starts this week with 10 female pedestrian figures to be put up outside Flinders St station, at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets.

Suggestion for how the new lights could look. Picture: supplied media_cameraSuggestion for how the new lights could look. Picture: supplied

The trial will run for a year but organisers are hoping to change the road laws to eventually see the same number of male and female figures at crossings throughout the state.

Committee for Melbourne head Martine Letts said the idea came from a group within the organisation, whose job it is to think about the future.

“We have been voted the world’s most liveable city six times in a row, and we should also aim to be the world’s most equal city,” she said.

State Minister for Women and for the Prevention of Family Violence Fiona Richardson said there were many small but significant* ways that women were made to feel unwelcome in public spaces.

“I’m thrilled to see pedestrian crossing lights use a woman’s figure,” she said.

But Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was not impressed with the move.

“I’m all for doing anything we can for gender equity, but really?” he said.

“Unfortunately I think this sort of costly exercise is more likely to bring derision* rather than support to what is a very important issue.”

The organisers of the plan want a gradual* rollout of the female lights, as current ones break and are replaced by the female figures.

Evan Mulholland from public issue thinking group the Institute of Public Affairs said Melbourne had bigger issues to deal with.

“They should be putting their time and energy into fixing congestion on our roads,” he said.


pedestrian: walking person

gender equality: same opportunities for people, regardless of their gender

campaign: plan to achieve a goal

significant: noteworthy

derision: scornful ridicule

gradual: bit by bit



Activity 1: Female Pedestrian Lights.

In your own words what is the plan outlined in the article?

Re-read or listen to the article carefully and look for reasons that support each side of this issue.

Draw up a two column chart. Label one side ‘FOR’ and the other ‘AGAINST’.

List the reasons in the appropriate column.

When you have found all the reasons listed in the article rule a line underneath the last one.

Add any reasons of your own that support either side. Try and think of at least two for each side.

Extension: Take a survey of your class to see how many people support the idea of introducing female pedestrian figures on traffic lights. Draw a graph to show the result of your survey.

Time: allow about 40 minutes to complete this task.

Curriculum links: English, Ethical Capabilities, Mathematics

Activity 2: What is your opinion?

Write a letter to the Committee for Melbourne voicing your opinion on this issue.

Address your letter to the head of the committee.

Ensure that you state what issue you are writing about and then include your thoughts on it.

Clearly state why you agree or disagree with this idea and give reasons for your opinion. If it supports your opinion, you may like to include the data you collected in the above survey.


The main purpose of these traffic lights is to tell pedestrians when it is safe to walk across the road (green light), when you must stop and wait (red light) and when you should finish crossing (red flashing light).

Design a pedestrian traffic light that is neither male nor female yet clearly informs pedestrians when to walk and when not to.

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this task.

Curriculum links: English, Ethical Capabilities

VCOP Activity:

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)


“Unfortunately I think this sort of costly exercise is more likely to bring derision rather than support to what is a very important issue.”

‘Rather than’ is used as a connective in this sentence.

Can you write five of your own sentences using rather than? For example, I would prefer to eat a huge bowl of brussels sprouts rather than do my homework.


What is your opinion about the new pedestrian crossings? Talk to a partner about your view. Can you convince them with three convincing reasons?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education







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