Guide to Making a Submission to the Draft ‘Sex Work Regulations 2016’

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What’s a Submission?

A submission can be as simple as a letter on how you feel about the way you work as a Victorian sex worker:

  • How do you feel about mandatory testing for STIs/HIV every three months?
  • Are you a Private Worker who feels the current restrictions on in-calls are too harsh?
  • Do you feel you have less ability to go to the police if you need to as a sex worker in Victoria?
  • Are you concerned that registering with the CAV/BLA will subject you to future discrimination?
  • Are you a street based sex worker affected by current policing operations?
  • Have you been affected by stigma and/or discrimination as a sex worker?
  • Do you work in a brothel and feel you are subject to working conditions that you cannot organise to change, like other workers would be able to do (through unions, by accessing the Workplace Ombudsman, or WorkSafe)?
  • Is there a way that you would prefer to work? Many sex workers indicate sex work decriminalisation, the system currently in place in New South Wales as their preference – do you feel this way?

A submission doesn’t have to be longer than a few paragraphs and it doesn’t have to be a technical document.
It’s often the case that government receive many form letters to submission processes, writing something in your own words, about your own experience can be very powerful.

What has changed between the Draft ‘Sex Work Regulations 2016’ and the previous regulations?

Very little. The most significant changes are:

  • Full body shots, photographs in advertising will no longer be restricted to head and shoulders only – but only on the internet.
    There are restrictions on these, as advertising cannot contain representations of: “..the bare sexual organs, buttocks or anus of a person, or frontal nudity of the genital region; or bare breasts; or a sexual act or simulated sexual act; or a person under the age of 18 years..”
  • Advertisements may now contain references to race, colour or ethnic origin.

You can see the full listing of changes at – Sex Work Regulations 2016 Consultation – Consumer Affairs Victoria
**NOTE – SUBMISSION DEADLINE NOW EXTENDED TO 5:00PM, FRIDAY 4th MARCH**

Sending Your Submission to Consumer Affairs Victoria

There are a number of methods of sending your submission in:

  • Email your submission directly to the CAV via – cav.consultations@justice.vic.gov.au
  • Post your submission directly to the CAV via –
    Sex Work Regulations 2016 Consultation
    Policy and Legislation Branch
    Consumer Affairs Victoria
    GPO Box 123
    Melbourne VIC 3001

NB – For anyone who wishes to list a return contact email or postal address other than their own please feel free to list Vixen Collective’s email and/or postal address:
Email address – vixencollectivemelbourne@gmail.com or, Postal address –
Vixen Collective
Melbourne Flinders Lane
PO Box 525
Flinders Lane, VIC 8009

Other References

Wanting other information on Victorian legislation/regulations or reference material? Check the list below and hopefully you will find a helpful link:

Information on Legislation/Regulations
Scarlet Alliance: Sex Industry Law – Victoria

General Articles
The Sexual Health of Sex Workers: no bad whores, just bad laws
Sex Work Legislation Stands in the Way of Australia’s Commitments

Academic Articles
Mandatory Testing for HIV and Sexually Transmissible Infections among Sex Workers in Australia: A Barrier to HIV and STI Prevention
Improving the health of sex workers in NSW: maintaining success

Other
Sex Workers Stand In Solidarity in Calling for the Full Decriminalisation of Sex Work! – Media Release
The Principles for Model Sex Work Legislation

 

If you have questions on the submission process, contact Consumer Affairs on cav.consultations@justice.vic.gov.au

 

TO DOWNLOAD THIS GUIDE AS A PDF DOCUMENT, CLICK HERE – VSG_ISW-DSWR2016

 

Have any feedback on this guide?  Contact Vixen Collective on Twitter at @VixenCollective or visit our website for more information at vixencollective.blogspot.com.au

See below for examples of submissions…

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Example of a Submission by a Victorian Sex Worker

 

Sex Work Regulations 2016 Consultation
Policy and Legislation Branch
Consumer Affairs Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001
Email: cav.consultations@justice.vic.gov.au

 

27th February 2016

To whom it may concern,

My name is Nell and I am a brothel based sex worker in Melbourne.

The Victorian licensing system makes it incredibly difficult for both my work and personal life. I’ve described a few of these here.

Mandatory testing is a perpetual reminder that the government views me as “dirty” and a threat to public health. I am treated as though I do not know how to care for my health, like I can’t make decisions about my own body. I am perfectly aware of the risks of STIs, just like other sex workers and we get tested without needing to be told. We are not ticking time bombs of infection and disease. This policy is a blatant attack on our bodily autonomy and basic human dignity.

Within the licensing system, police are not my protectors, but are instead monitor my very existence. This is expressed in legislation, but also in police behaviour. If I am subject to a crime, violent or otherwise, at work or not – going to police for assistance isn’t even remotely an option. The threat of being outed, discrimination, interpersonal violence, and just generally horrific treatment by people as a result. This means that I turn to my peers, other sex workers and community for support, because reporting to the police is not an option.

Stigma is a harm so major and all-encompassing that it is a challenge to explain its damage in only a few words. People’s perceptions of sex work as a social evil, or of sex workers as victims, mean they can become abusive or abandon us when we are outed. My relationships with family and friends were so severely damaged by their discovery of my work, that I’ve been forced to completely reshape and rebuild my life. Other sex workers have supported me, but many of my family and friends have subjected me to emotional abuse and threats. The licensing systems perpetuates this stigma.

Decriminalisation, along with a commitment to alleviate stigma (through media, education, and so on) will make an enormous difference in our lives. We deserve to be heard, to be listened to, to be the decision makers on issues relating to us.

Yours sincerely,

Nell.

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Example of a Submission by an Inter-State Sex Worker

 

Sex Work Regulations 2016 Consultation
Policy and Legislation Branch
Consumer Affairs Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001
Email: cav.consultations@justice.vic.gov.au

 

27th February 2016

To whom it may concern,

I am a sex worker from NSW, I am writing because having worked in Sydney under decriminalisation I know that this is a system that supports my health and safety.

 

Under decriminalisation of sex work in NSW:

 

  • I do not have to register my name with the government like private workers do in Victoria, creating opportunities for discrimination later in life.
  • I am not subject to mandatory STI/HIV testing because, like sex workers everywhere across Australia, I maintain my sexual health as part of my work – and, as studies show sex workers have sexual health at least as good or better than the general population.
  • If someone threatens me or is violent to me when I am working, I can go to the police more easily than a Victorian sex worker. Because the police do not regulate the sex industry in NSW, I can get assistance from the police like any other person in the community.
  • I have the ability to choose between a variety of different ways of working, and do what suits me best. If I want to work privately in an environment I control – which is best for my safety – then I can do this.
  • Although as a sex worker I am still subject to stigma and discrimination, I am supported by sex worker community through a funded state based peer sex worker organisations – SWOP NSW.

 

Victorian sex workers should have access to the same rights and opportunities that NSW sex workers do.

 

The Victorian Government needs to end mandatory testing of STIs/HIV, the registration of sex workers, remove the police as regulators of the sex industry in Victoria, and most importantly fully decriminalise sex work in Victoria.

 

Yours sincerely,

Alice West

Trans woman, sex worker – sent to mens prison in Western Australia

The latest news today on the case of a trans woman living with HIV, who is a sex worker, is that bail has been refused and she has been moved to a men’s prison in Western Australia.

“The court heard [name removed] was being supported by the Sex Workers Association which offered to provide a surety and accommodation should she be granted bail.
However Magistrate Paul Heaney refused bail saying the case was “unusual but very serious” and bail would be inappropriate.
[name removed] was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again next month.”
– February 23rd 2016, ABC

“Outside court, People For Sex Worker Rights in WA spokeswoman Rebecca Davies told reporters [name removed] was distressed and the group was disappointed bail had been refused.
“We’re really disappointed and deeply concerned that a trans woman is being held in a male facility and we call on the WA government to do something to make sure this never happens to another trans woman ever again,” she said.
“Someone who identifies as a woman has been put in a male prison where they’re probably going to be subject to discrimination, possibly abuse from other prisoners, it’s just not a good scenario.”…”
– February 23rd 2016, WA Today

Quoted in the press on Saturday, local advocates voiced concerns about the treatment of the case in the media and the likelihood of a fair trial:

“…”We are here to support a fellow sex worker who is being vilified in the press,” PSWRWA president Rebecca Davies said.
“We are concerned that the person is not going to be given a fair trial … safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party.”…
Ms Davies also feared the case would reinforce the stigma against people living with HIV, saying the release of [name removed] personal health information was inappropriate.
“When we criminalise HIV, people stop getting tested. This is a public health issue, not a criminal one. WA needs to get with the times,” she said.” – February 20th 2016, ABC

This follows on from the woman being extradited last week from Sydney, where she was arrested over allegations of unprotected sex with a male client, resulting in charges of grievous bodily harm in Western Australia.
The woman’s lawyer informed the court in Perth today that the alleged victim was not a client but the two were instead in a consensual relationship.

While the case is not scheduled to return to court until next month sex worker organisation People for Sex Worker Rights in WA continue to advocate for the woman to be moved to a women’s prison and for the matter to be treated as a public health issue – not requiring criminal sanctions.

 

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For more, read the media release from People for Sex Worker Rights in WA, supplied by PSWRWA and re-printed with permission below:

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Media Release
People For Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia
19 February 2016

Allegations of HIV transmission have been made against a transgender person living with HIV, who was also a sex worker in Western Australia.

People for Sex Worker Rights in Western Australia, the peer-led advocacy group for sex workers in Western Australia, does not support criminalisation of consensual sexual activity, including when transmission of a sexually transmitted infection occurs. While we cannot comment on a case before the courts, we believe that sexual health should be treated as a public health issue, not a criminal one.

“Safer sex is the responsibility of everyone engaging in a sexual activity, not just one party,” said People For Sex Worker Rights in WA president Rebecca Davies.

“We have continually seen, both within Australia and globally, that prosecuting people for cases of this nature result in poorer public health outcomes, and a reduction in people going in for sexual health testing. UNAIDS has raised concerns that such criminal laws create disincentives to testing, create a false sense of security for those who believe themselves to be HIV-negative, reinforce stigma against people living with HIV, and result in selective prosecution of people with HIV among otherwise marginalised communities. We share these concerns.”

“It has been extremely disappointing to see the media actively encouraging stigma towards people living with HIV, transgender women and sex workers in their reporting of this case. Such reporting only serves to create fear and misinformation, when it should highlight the need for drastic improvement in public sexual health education.

“We are also extremely disappointed to see repeated transphobic reporting towards the sex worker concerned, including referring to a woman as “male”, using incorrect pronouns, and reporting of her birth name. There can be no justification for such transphobic coverage in 2016.”

“The sexual health of sex workers in Australia has repeatedly been shown to be as good as, if not better than, the general population. A public health-focused response centred on peer education and harm reduction is a far better means of promoting sexual health than harmful measures of criminalisation. We suggest that pouring funds into policing measures while simultaneously seeing funding cuts to sexual health services around Australia is deeply counterproductive.”

Contact:
Rebecca Davies
President, People For Sex Worker Rights in WA
Ph: 0451 984 211
rebecca.davies.rd@hotmail.com

To download the media release as a PDF click here – PSWRWA Media Release – 2016 Feb 19

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Support CJ (preferred name of worker) during her case:

“Every dollar raised from this GoFundMe will go towards ensuring CJ can have her family around her and meeting her direct needs in prison. We may not be able to keep her out of male prison today, but we can at least ensure that she has as much support around her from those closest to her as possible while we campaign to have her moved.”

Click here to visit the GoFundMe and donate – Support CJ Trans Sex Worker

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Want to keep informed and support People for Sex Worker Rights in WA during this case?

Follow PSWRWA on twitter here – @sexworkrightswa

Visit PSWRWA’s Website here – sexworkerrightswa.org

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Media Links

Safety fears for transgender woman in solitary confinement in men’s prison

HIV is a Public Health Issue Not A Crime Say Advocates – Gay News Network

Reports of alleged HIV transmission by WA sex worker highlight stigma

NAPWA, SWOP NSW, Scarlet Alliance, WA AIDS Council, Magenta “HIV transmission should be about public health, not criminal law”

Sex workers stand in solidarity in calling for full decriminalisation of sex work!

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Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation
Media Release – Tuesday 15th September 2015

Vixen Collective, Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation, calls for the full decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria as a vital and urgent step that government must take for the health and safety of Victorian sex workers!

Decriminalisation is the removal of all criminal laws relating to the sex industry, allowing sex work to be regulated like any other business – this does not mean no regulation, but that the sex industry should be regulated like other businesses.

“Violence against sex workers happens not just because of individuals who choose to perpetuate violence, but because the laws governing sex work, and the way sex workers are viewed in our society allows it to.”
MJ – Victorian sex worker

The full decriminalisation of sex work is recognised as the worlds’ best practice model for sex industry regulation – by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Amnesty International, Australia’s HIV Strategy, multiple medical studies, and sex workers’ representative organisations across Australia and the world.

It is critical that the voices of sex workers be heard, in order for the rights of sex workers be recognised, and the safety of sex workers given protection by law.

” Stop talking about sex workers and start listening to us!”
Rahni Belle – Victorian sex worker

Victorian sex workers stand in solidarity with sex workers in New South Wales, as an Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels in NSW places decriminalisation there under threat.

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We recognise full decriminalisation of sex work is the only acceptable model of regulation for sex workers’ human rights, labour rights, health and safety.

We ask the NSW Legislative Assembly Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels recognise this also, and in doing so endorse retaining decriminalisation in NSW as the only acceptable outcome of the inquiry.

Signed in solidarity, and agreement of the above:

Jane Green, Media Liaison, Vixen Collective (Victoria’s Peer Only Sex Worker Organisation)

Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association)

Cameron Cox, CEO, Sex Workers Outreach Project New South Wales (SWOP-NSW)

Leanne Melling & Skye Ozanne, Sex Workers Outreach Project Northern Territory (SWOP-NT)

Renai Buchanan, Organiser, People for Sex Worker Rights Western Australia (PSR-WA)

Candi Forrest, Treasurer, Respect Inc (Support for Queensland Sex Workers)

Tarkwin Coles, President, Sex Worker Action Group – Gaining Empowerment, Rights & Recognition (SWAGGERR)

Lexxie Jury, Peer Education Officer, Sex Workers Outreach Project Australian Capital Territory (SWOP-ACT)

Sharon Jennings, Manager, South Australian Sex Industry Network (SIN)

Josephine Rayson, Acting Manager, Magenta (Sex Worker Support Project for Western Australia)

Resourcing health & EDucation (RhED), a program of Inner South Community Health (ISCHS)

Lucy Blake, Delegate, Nothing About Us Without Us (NAUWU)

Difficult Debby & Despo Debby, Members, Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free (Sex Worker Arts & Performance Collective)

Saul Isbister, President/Public Officer, Touching Base Inc

Fiona Patten, MLC for Northern Metropolitan (Victoria Parliament), Australian Sex Party

Simon Ruth, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian AIDS Council

Brent Allen, CEO, Living Positive Victoria

Jenny Kelsall, Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria

Mark Stoové, Associate Professor, Burnet Institute Principal for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Burnet Institute

Dr Graham Brown, Snr Research Fellow, Aust. Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University

Rob Lake, Executive Director, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)

________________________________________________________

For further media information/interviews, please contact – Jane Green, Vixen Collective Media Liaison: 0420 887 845

Click here to download Media Release as a PDF

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Want more information on the NSW Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels?

‘Sex workers concerned about calls for changes in the way NSW brothels are regulated’ – Sydney Morning Herald

‘Why sex worker laws do not need changing’ – Alt Media

NSW Inquiry into the Regulation of Brothels – Public Submissions

Want to join the campaign to retain decriminalisation of sex work in NSW?

Sign and share the petition here: Save Decriminalisation in NSW for Sex Worker Health & Safety

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Want more information on Victorian sex workers calling for full decriminalisation of their work?

‘An Open Letter to Tom Meagher from St Kilda Street Based Sex Workers’ – Feminist Ire

‘Queer Sex Workers and Decriminalisation: The Key to Fighting Stigma’ – Star Observer

‘Reclaim the Night/Take Back the Night’ – Melbourne 2013

Want to join Victorian sex workers in campaigning for decriminalisation?

Follow Vixen Collective on Twitter here: @VixenCollective

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Click here for listing of Sex Worker Organisations in Australia

The “best of times” & the “worst of times” (SlutWalk 2015)

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My name is Jane Green and I am a current sex worker.

I am speaking today, as a sex worker and also on behalf of Scarlet Alliance[1], Australian Sex Workers Association and also Vixen Collective[2], Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation.

I do not speak for all sex workers, because no one can.
I speak from my own personal experience of sex work.

This has been a difficult speech for me to write, not because there is a lack of things to say – but because there is so much.

Much like the Dickens quote, I often feel like it is both the “best of times” and the “worst of times”.

The “best of times” because as sex workers we are constantly fighting for our rights, often achieving so much, and yet it is still the “worst of times” because conservatives and anti-sex work feminists are arrayed against us trying to erase our successes and criminalise our work and lives.

To us, to sex workers, this fight is eternally visible – it is the fabric of our lives and work. But to those that are not part of our community it is often hidden and I believe this is what makes it easier for people to turn away from our struggles, rather than joining us as allies.

Sex worker organisations across Australia and across the world work ceaselessly for the full decriminalisation of sex work – this is supported by the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Human Rights Watch, Australia’s National HIV Strategies, Scarlet Alliance, Vixen Collective, sex worker organisations nationally and globally – and most recently Amnesty International. Yet we are still working, we are still fighting.

I would like to take you on a tour of what that work is like for me as a sex worker and survivor of rape, over just the last two months.

Vixen Collective, of which I am a member, recently filed a submission with the Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria)[3] . Sex worker organisations across Australia work tirelessly on violence against sex workers, and laws such as the licencing system in Victoria make it much harder for sex workers to report violence to police, or to seek justice through the courts.

Imagine my depressing lack of surprise when submissions to the Royal Commission began to be published and I realised anti-sex work group Project Respect had claimed in their submission that they were the:

..leading agency addressing violence against women in the sex industry[4]

This strangely omits in Victoria – Vixen Collective, RhED[5] and Melbourne Sexual Health[6] -but also every other sex worker organisation in Australia.

Project Respect, commonly referred to as Project (dis)Respect by sex workers, also states that:

“..failing to address family and other male violence against women in the sex industry makes other women vulnerable to men’s violence..[7]
This is a shocking form of victim blaming – essentially blaming sex workers for violence against ALL women – rather than focusing on perpetrators of violence and the systemic causes of that violence.

Most important is the fact that Project Respect is NOT a sex worker organisation but rather an organisation that seeks to criminalise our work, via the Swedish Model[8] of sex work regulation, which would place sex workers at greater risk of violence.

Project Respect also publicly state that they are working towards the abolition of ALL sex work[9].

But this is common. Anti-sex work groups attempts to silence sex workers in Australia abound.

Vixen Collective held the Festival of Sex Work[10] in August of this year. There were sex worker only peer education workshops. Public events to demystify sex work. Social events for sex workers, a film night, lunches, and much more.

As part of the closing of the Festival a protest was held in Swanson Street and photos (of sex workers that were comfortable having their photo taken) were posted on social media.

We were almost immediately attacked by a member of an anti sex work group on Twitter – claiming that there were no “women of colour..but plenty of white men”.

Now I have nothing specific against white men (many of them give me money), but I only remember five or so “white men” out of about nine-five protesters, and the lead speaker was Rory – an aboriginal street based sex worker.

So either the person attacking us on Twitter was at a different protest or they just made that up to be a troll. Which is actually a common thing – harassing sex workers online.

Second only to harassing sex workers in person.

Since I’ve been involved in sex worker activism I have had my photo taken by radical feminists, been called a “cult leader” on the internet, had “pimp lobby”[11] shouted at me while speaking at an Amnesty International meeting and been called privileged so many times that as a ex-street based sex worker, rape survivor, someone who has experienced homelessness throughout my life, and member of a marginalised community subject to stigma and discrimination – that I’m frankly a little over it.

But I’m also over it because when it comes to the laws that affect sex workers lives and work – the voices of ALL current sex workers are critical. Because regardless of what anyone else says we’re the ones who have to go back to work tomorrow and live with the consequences. It is our lived experience that counts and it is our lives that will be affected.

Crowd at Slut Walk Melbourne, Sept 5th 2015

Crowd at Slut Walk Melbourne, Sept 5th 2015

Finally I want to tell you about what I experienced when speaking in Western Australia, at a forum on sex industry regulation[12], opposite Peter Abetz (a Liberal politician) and Simone Watson (current Director of NorMAC, an anti-sex work group).

Much of the rhetoric of both of the opposing speakers centered around silencing sex workers. Anti-sex work groups often like to claim that either sex workers are so downtrodden we can’t speak for ourselves (and must be rescued) or if we do speak for ourselves then it’s a sign we’re privileged (so we shouldn’t be listened to).

This is a tactic used by anti-sex work groups, designed to silence anyone who does not agree with them. But what is really telling if you listen to anti-sex work groups, is the language they use to describe sex workers:

They call us “product” not people

They say sex workers “sell their bodies”, but my body is still here, I sell a service

But most tellingly – just one day after the Amnesty International decision to endorse decriminalisation of sex work – Simone Watson, Director of NorMAC, said the following:

“…at McDonalds you’re flipping the burgers, in prostitution you’re the meat…”

Let me be quite clear.

Those that seek to deny sex workers human rights – are essentially denying sex workers are human.

Those that outright call sex workers “meat” – aren’t even trying to hide it.

So I go back to what I said at the start.

To us, to sex workers, this fight is eternally visible – it is the fabric of our lives and work.

To you, I hope it is now more visible – make a choice, make a difference – join us as allies.

(If you’re not sure what you can do, ask us how)

proud01x

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Want more information on joining sex workers in fighting for the full decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria?
Join Vixen Collective on Twitter here: @VixenCollective
Or visit Vixen Collective’s website – vixencollective.blogspot.com.au

Want to support sex worker rights at a national level in Australia?
Join Scarlet Alliance on Twitter here: @scarletalliance
Or visit Scarlet Alliance’s website – scarletalliance.org.au

You can follow me directly on Twitter at: @sexliesducttape

To find the details of other state and territory sex worker organisations – click here

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References

[1] Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association), http://scarletalliance.org.au/

[2] Vixen Collective (Victoria’s peer only sex worker organisation), http://vixencollective.blogspot.com.au/

[3] Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria), http://www.rcfv.com.au/

[4]Project Respect is the leading agency addressing violence against women in the sex industry“, Project Respect Submission into the Royal Commission on Family Violence, pg2

[5] Resourcing Health and Education (RhED), http://sexworker.org.au/

[6] Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, http://www.mshc.org.au/

[7] Project Respect Submission into the Royal Commission on Family Violence, pg2

[8] Amnesty (again) – Statement to the AGM, https://sexliesducttape.me/2014/07/06/amnesty-again-statement-to-the-agm/

[9] From Project Respect website, ‘Our Vision’: “Project Respect’s vision is for a world where women are free from..prostitution..”

[10] Festival of Sex Work, http://festivalofsexwork.blogspot.com.au/

[11] Amnesty International: Decriminalising Sex Work – What Are the Issues?, https://sexliesducttape.me/2014/07/05/amnesty-international-decriminalising-sex-work-what-are-the-issues/

[12] Forum on Regulating Sex Work in Western Australia, https://sexliesducttape.me/2015/08/12/forum-on-regulating-sex-work-in-western-australia/

Sex Worker Organisations In Australia

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Australia Wide

Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) *PEER*
Phone – 02 9517 2577
Website – http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/
Twitter – @scarletalliance

Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free *PEER*
Phone – N/A
Website – https://www.facebook.com/debbydoesntdoitforfree
Twitter – @theDebbys

Touching Base *NON-PEER*
Phone – General Inquiries 0424 591 409, Referrals List 0499 054 400
Website – http://www.touchingbase.org/
Twitter – @TouchingBaseInc


Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

SWOP-ACT (Sex Workers Outreach Project Australian Capital Territory) *PEER*
Phone – 02 6257 2855
Website – http://aidsaction.org.au/services-programs/swop/
Twitter – @aidsactionact
NB – twitter is for AIDS Action ACT the organisation that auspices SWOP-ACT


New South Wales (NSW)

SWOP-NSW (Sex Workers Outreach Project New South Wales) *PEER*
Phone – (02) 9206 2166 or Free Call 1800 622 902
Website – http://www.swop.org.au/
Twitter – @SWOPnsw


Northern Territory (NT)

SWOP-NT (Sex Workers Outreach Project Northern Territory) *PEER*
Phone – 08 89447707
Website – http://www.ntahc.org.au/programs/sex-worker-outreach-program
Twitter – @ntahc
NB – twitter is for NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council the organisation that auspices SWOP-NT


Queensland (QLD)

Respect Inc *PEER*
Phone – Townsville 07 4724 4853, Brisbane 07 3835 1111, Cairns 07 4051 5009, Gold Coast 07 5564 0929
Website – http://www.respectqld.org.au/
Twitter – @respectqld


South Australia (SA)

SIN (Sex Industry Network) *PEER*
Phone – 08 8351 7626
Website – http://www.sin.org.au/
Twitter – @sexindustrynetw

Swaggerr *PEER*
Phone – N/A
Website – https://www.facebook.com/swaggerradelaide
Twitter – @SwaggerrSA


Tasmania (TAS)

Tasmanian Sex Worker Project *PEER*
Phone – 03 6234 1242 OR 0451 835 897

 

Victoria (VIC)

Vixen Collective (Victoria’s Peer Only Sex Worker Organisation)*PEER*
Phone – 0414 275 959
Website – http://vixencollective.net
Twitter –@VixenCollective

RhED (Resourcing Health & Education) *NON-PEER*
Phone – 1800 458 752
Website – http://sexworker.org.au/
Twitter – @InnerSouth
NB twitter is for ISCHS the organisation that funds RhED

 

Western Australia (WA)

Magenta *NON-PEER*
Phone – 08 9328 1387
Website – http://www.magenta.org.au/
Twitter – @srhwa_library
NB twitter is for SRHWA (Sexual & Reproductive Health W.A.) the organisation that funds Magenta

PSR-WA (People for Sex Worker Rights W.A.) *S/W-LED*
Phone – N/A
Website – http://sexworkerrightswa.org/
Twitter – @sexworkrightswa

 

NOTE:

PEER: Peer sex worker organisations are organisations where all those involved in the work of the organisation (members, staff, board/committee and volunteers) are current or former sex workers.

S/W-LED: Sex worker led organisations are organisations where all decision making is by current or former sex workers, but non peers may be involved in other aspects of the organisations work.

NON-PEER: Non-peer organisations are organisations that work with sex workers or on sex worker issues but are neither fully peer or sex worker led.  Non-peer organisations are only listed here if they are associate members of the Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association (i.e. their principles and practices are in general alignment with the constitution of the national organisation, and are not contrary to the human rights of sex workers).

Sex Workers speak out despite exclusion at Festival of Dangerous Ideas

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The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’ scheduled line up of anti sex work speakers at the ‘Women for Sale’ panel yesterday was upstaged when a sex worker took the the place of one of the panelists, making it known that sex workers will not be silenced or excluded from discussions about their lives and work.

Panelist Elizabeth Pisani gave up her seat on the panel so that Jules Kim, sex worker and Acting CEO of Scarlet Allliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) could take to the stage and confront the whorephobic and abolitionist agenda of the discussion taking place.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas has this year provided a platform for anti sex work speakers (refer Sex Worker rights an idea too dangerous for Festival of Dangerous Ideas), people whose personal politics, desire to sell books and increase their social capital have lead to them promoting the Nordic or Swedish Model, a form of sex work abolition that would see sex workers right to work safely, access assistance in cases of violence & access justice greatly diminished.

Sex workers around the world call for Decriminalisation as the best practice regulatory model for sex workers health and safety, in June 2014 in Melbourne at the International Conference AIDS 2014, sex workers joined medical researchers and policy experts in calling for decriminalisation to combat both HIV and violence against sex workersLancet report: Support sex workers to prevent HIV.

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Zahra Stardust, sex worker, (pictured above), who came to protest had the following to say about #FODI (Festival of Dangerous Ideas) and their treatment of sex workers:

“The most disturbing aspect about the Women for Sale panel was the presentation of ideas that have been globally and scientifically proven as putting sex workers at real risk (indeed, danger) being positioned as polite, reasonable and interesting debate. The Festival of Dangerous Ideas exemplifies the total failure of ‘human rights’ and ‘progressive’ organisations to recognise oppression at its most obvious, and instead to engage in it frivolously and without accountability as something that is fashionable and will earn them ‘feminist’ credibility. This Festival of Dangerous Ideology uses sex work to sell out a session, then promotes the criminalisation of the people it seeks to protect.”

(Quoted with permission, Zahra Stardust, www.zahrastardust.com@ZahraStardust)

#FODI when approached back in June, had made their attitude of exclusion clear, refusing to allow sex workers access to speak about their own human rights, about their own lives.  This attitude of silencing a marginalised group became even worse on the day.

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Co-Founder and Co-Curator of the Festival Simon Longstaff remarked to the Guardian that “In my opinion what needed to be represented was a broad spectrum of opinion, which included the opinions of sex workers in Elizabeth Pisani who was able to articulate the opinions that sex workers hold..”.

#FODI defines a “broad spectrum” of opinion as not including any members of the marginalised group being spoken about, satisfied with selecting a non sex worker to “articulate” sex workers opinions.  #FODI were then upset when that person, Elizabeth Pisani, turned out to have better ethics than St James Ethics centre and #FODI, and gave their seat to a sex worker to speak out about sex workers own lives.

In the Guardian story Three sex workers stage protest at Festival of Dangerous Ideas Longstaff also goes on to say that “One of the conscious designs of the festival is that … there is opportunity for people to contribute in the Q&A..”, but although half an hour of Q&A had been advertised it was cut to approximately five minutes , two questions asked, a sex worker present being told she was not permitted to contribute a question because she knew a panelist.

As Zahra Stardust remarks:

“Guess what? Sex workers actually have expertise on these issues. We live them every day. But we are not being paid to speak at the Opera House. We are here because what is entertainment for you actually affects our lives. A seat at your table is the bare minimum sex workers deserve. If you came and sat on our table, you might recognise that police and NGOs are not our protectors. You might realise that no-one is standing up for our rights except us. At least this was not lost on the security guard who came up to me smiling after the panel to say my question was fantastic and he wished sex workers had more time to talk.

(Quoted with permission, Zahra Stardust, www.zahrastardust.com, @ZahraStardust)

The use of sex workers lives as a titillating topic to draw crowds and attention isn’t new – we see this frequently in media and the arts – what must always be challenged is any attempt to exclude sex workers from discussions about their own lives and human rights.  Discussions of sex workers as having “false consciousness” are simply another method of excluding the voices of marginalised people.  Attempts to identify sex workers as responsible for violence against all women as well as violence within sex work are simply methods of ‘victim blaming’.  Violence in sex work, like violence in society at large, will only be ended by addressing the perpetrators and systemic causes of that violence – such as criminalisation of sex work, stigma and discrimination against sex workers – not by eliminating sex workers right to work.

Sex work is work.  Most importantly, as always, listen to sex workers – sex workers are the experts on our lives.

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Still to come?  Panelists from ‘Women for Sale’ Lydia Cacho (author of ‘Slavery Inc’), Kajsa Ekis Ekman (author of ‘Being Bought and Being Sold’) and Alissa Nutting (author of ‘Unclean Jobs for Woman and Girls’) are on Q&A on the ABC tonight…

Guess what?  No sex worker has been asked or allowed to participate in the Q&A program.

Want to ask why Q&A doesn’t consider it relevant to have sex workers included, speaking about their own lives and rights, on a panel which includes speakers promoting an agenda that risks sex workers health and safety?  Submit a question here: Q&A ‘Ask A Question’

Hold @QandA accountable for not having a sex worker on their panel tonight:  Use twitter #QandA

Q&A are also promoting tonight’s show on Facebook at: Q&A on Facebook

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Sex workers protesting at #FODI – Jules Kim (Acting CEO of Scarlet Alliance), Zahra Stardust & Cam Cox

Sex worker rights – an idea too dangerous for Festival of Dangerous Ideas

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The annual ‘Festival of Dangerous Ideas’ presented this year by Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre opens on Saturday the 30th of August.  FODI (Festival of Dangerous Ideas) is billed as:

“..leading thinkers and culture creators from around the world will take to the stage to bring contentious ideas to the fore and challenge mainstream thought and opinion..”

The St James Ethics Centre, which heavily promotes FODI on its website, identifies itself as an:

“.. independent not-for-profit organisation that provides an open forum for the promotion and exploration of ethical questions..”

So lets look at the coverage of sex workers in FODI and see how challenging and open it really is?

 

We’ll start with ‘Women for Sale’ a FODI panel on 31st August:

Women, and their bodies, are for sale… Throughout the world, women and children are trafficked and traded as workers in the multi-billion-dollar sex industry, and their bodies are bought by ‘consumers’ everywhere. .. Pornography, IVF, surrogacy and prostitution are very different things, but all put women and their bodies on the market.”  (quoted from ‘Women for Sale’, FODI website).

As a sex worker I sell my services and not my body – yes, just checked, it’s still here with me – so language like this is actually incredibly offensive.

The panelists for this include Lydia Cacho (author of ‘Slavery Inc’), Kajsa Ekis Ekman (author of ‘Being Bought and Being Sold’), Alissa Nutting (author of ‘Unclean Jobs for Woman and Girls) and Elizabeth Pisani (author of ‘Indonesia Etc’ and another book perhaps relevant but not listed on the website – ‘The Wisdom of Whores’).

The panel itself begins from a mainstream premise – that of sex worker as a victim without agency – the position that is carried prevalently by the media, that impacts heavily on the stigma and discrimination that sex workers live with daily.  This is then being argued by people in a position of privilege – by academics and journalists – who make their living recycling and promoting this agenda, on the backs of sex workers, without allowing sex workers access to the discussion.

No sex workers are included on this panel, despite local organisations being available and the national sex worker organisation Scarlet Alliance having its base in Sydney.

 

But wait there’s more – ‘Slavery Is Big Business’ is a talk by Lydia Cacho (one of the panelists from FODI’s ‘Women for Sale’) on Sunday the 31st of August:

“..slavery is often seen as a dark part of the colonial past .. it remains alive and well—and is growing dramatically. Impervious to recession, it forms a thriving part of the globalised sex industry run by organised crime. International trafficking of women and children for sex is a multi-billion dollar business that won’t be anywhere near ‘abolition’ until those who make money from its operations and buy its services think again about what being complicit in slavery means..”

Conflating sex work and trafficking is a significant part of the abolitionist agenda.  This is done as a way to silence sex workers and prevent them from leading discussions about our own lives and human rights – and sex workers should be leading these discussions – not in the back of the room watching while non sex workers discuss whether or not we should access our human rights, or whether sex workers should have a right to health and safety in their work.

 

But still there’s more – ‘Surrogacy is Child Trafficking’ a talk by Kajsa Ekis Ekman (another one of the panelists from FODI’s ‘Women for Sale’) on Saturday 30th August:

“..Surrogacy—or contract pregnancy—has become a global industry, growing at unprecedented speed.. Whereas the sex industry is increasingly targeted by legislators as exploitation, the surrogacy industry retains a rosy image. Helping an infertile couple to have a baby of their own is seen as a generous and compassionate gesture from a woman who can help: a sign of female empowerment and free will.. But is it? At a closer glance, the surrogacy industry has more to do with prostitution than we might think. Not only is it exploitation of women’s bodies—in fact surrogacy is nothing but baby trade..”

While there are parts of the world where “the sex industry is increasingly targeted by legislators as exploitation”, specifically countries enacting the Swedish or Nordic Model – this has had terrible outcomes for sex workers, as we see here by listening to Swedish sex worker, Pye Jacobson:

 

Sex workers regularly state that “sex work is work”, sex workers call for sex workers human rights and labour rights to be recognised.  At AIDS 2014 sex workers and allies released many important statements calling on legislators to recognise decriminalisation as the key strategy for sex workers health and safety, and as an essential part of “eventual control of the pandemic”.

Lancet report: Support sex workers to prevent HIV

 

 

MPs commit to rights-based reform to tackle AIDS – AFPPD

 

And yet there is still more FODI has to throw at us:

Pussy Riot/Zona Prava in Conversation In Conversation With Masha Gessen

So what’s up with Pussy Riot?  Aren’t they those cool punks with colourful balaclavas that held a concert in a church and pissed off Putin?  Well yes.  They’re also members of FEMEN and here’s FEMENs policy on sex work:

“..to ideologically undermine the fundamental institutes of patriarchy – dictatorship, sex-industry, and church – by putting these institutes through subversive trolling to force them to strategic surrender.. to promote new revolutionary female sexuality as opposed to the patriarchal erotic and pornography..” (quoted from FEMEN website, femen.org/about)

 

So this is what FODI has come up with in a festival that purports to challenge mainstream ideas and that is co-sponsored by St James Ethics Centre that prides itself as being an “open forum for the promotion and exploration of ethical questions“: four events run by and – excepting perhaps one* – composed entirely of anti-sex work speakers.

For FODI – Apparently allowing sex workers – the actual marginalised group in question – to speak on sex work, about their own lives and human rights – IS JUST TOO DANGEROUS AN IDEA.

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Want to tell Festival of Dangerous Ideas and St James Ethics Centre what you think?

Festival of Dangerous Ideas is using #FODI on Twitter, include this as well as #rightsnotrescue in your tweets to hold FODI responsible for their actions

FODI are on Twitter at @IdeasattheHouse

FODI are on Facebook as Ideas at the House – Facebook

St James Ethics Centre are on Twitter at @stjamesethics

 

Updates provided when available, as usual…

 

*NB – Elizabeth Pisani’s position isn’t clear in this, although the fact that she’s participating in the panel without having asked why a representative for sex workers isn’t present is a concern.