News (2020)

6 August 2020

Principal lawyer Geoff Roberson from Stacks Law Firm provides legal commentary on an Australian Financial Complaints Authority determination which upheld National Australia Bank’s right to close the accounts of sex industry businesses. 

Read: “Did the bank have the right to close the escort agencys business bank accounts? Which case won?”

5 August 2020

NSW Greens table a private members bill in the NSW Parliament which seeks to better protect sex work sex workers from discrimination by amending the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).

About Abigail Boyd (NSW Greens MP)

Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Sex Workers) Bill

5 August 2020

Journalist Amber Shultz publishes article about rape law reform, sex work and whether non payment of sex work service fees constitutes rape. Lisa from Sex Work Law Reform Victoria provides comment. 

Read Crikey.com.au article “No payment, no consent: sex worker advocacy groups say fraud and rape is on the rise”

5 August 2020

At 11:59pm the Victorian Government orders the greater Melbourne region to enter Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions, ordering many sectors of the economy to shut down. 

Sex Work Law Reform Victoria publishes a clarification on what this means for the sex industry. At this time, no government agency had publicly clarified what the status of the sex industry was.

Read SWLRV Sex Work/Coronavirus Clarifier (August 2020) 

5 August 2020

Under Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions, the Victorian Government orders many metropolitan Melbourne businesses close, impacting many industries, including the sex industry

3 August 2020

The Victorian Pride Lobby publishes their submission to the Victorian Government’s LGBTIQ Strategy. Although the Victorian Pride Lobby lobbies for equality for LGBTIQ Victorians (rather than sex workers specifically), the submission contains recommendations consistent with sex work decriminalisation on page 6.

Read submission (see page 6)

31 July 2020

Sex Work Law Reform Victoria makes submission to the "Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic". We identify a poor communication and a lack of communication about what coronavirus restrictions mean for the sex industry as ongoing problems.

Read our submission

Read all submissions

29 July 2020

New Zealand academic Dr Lynzi Armstrong publishes an article about banking discrimination against sex workers in New Zealand. Article outlines the reasons why such discrimination occurs.

Read “Sex work discrimination unacceptable” article

29 July 2020

Thorne Harbour Health hosts an online event "Community Forum: Sex Work Decriminalisation" in which a number of sex workers from sex worker organisations speak.

Event description

July 2020

Community health centre program RhED voluntarily publishes their submission to Victoria’s Review into the Decriminalisation of Sex Work on their website. RhED is a program of community health centre StarHealth. RhED‘s submission supports the human rights of sex workers and supports the full decriminalisation of sex work. Sex Work Law Reform Victoria is referred to in the submission. 

RhED’s Submission

RhED website

22 July 2020

A 26 year old man faces possible deportation after being sentenced to six year imprisonment term for the rape of a sex worker in the Le Boudoir brothel in Collingwood, Victoria. 

“It is clear that sex workers are just as entitled to be protected from rape as anyone else,” said Victorian County Court judge George Georgiou.

Read “Chef faces deportation after six-year sentence for rape of sex worker” article in The Age

Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy website

17 July 2020

Submissions from all key stakeholders to Victoria’s Sex Work Review are due.

17 July 2020

Renowned sex workers’ rights activist Cheryl Overs appears on radio station 3CR to discuss her fight for sex work decriminalisation in Victoria dating back to the 1980’s and the current challenges in 2020. 

Listen to “In Ya Face” interview with Cheryl Overs

10 July 2020

Male sex worker and activist Dean Lim is interviewed on radio station 3CR about his involved in a male sex worker consultation project in conjunction with the Michael Kirby Centre to prepare for submissions to Fiona Patten’s Sex Work Decriminalisation Review

Listen to “In Ya Face” interview with Dean Lim

22 June 2020

Melissa Horne, MP appointed as new Minister for Consumer Affairs in Victoria. The role involves regulating and licensing sex work in Victoria. Ms Horne will consider Fiona Patten’s recommendations on how to decriminalise sex work from October 2020 onwards. 

https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-labor-ministry-to-focus-on-jobs/

18 June 2020

South Australian Greens MP Tammy Franks introduces a sex work decriminalisation bill into the South Australian parliament. 

Read the “Statutes Amendment (Repeal of Sex Work Offences) Bill 2020”

Read Tammy Franks press release (18 June, 2020)

Watch Tammy Franks 2nd Reading of the Bill on Youtube below

11 June 2020

Sex Workers’ Voices Victoria launches on Twitter. The project is a temporary collaboration between sex worker organisations (Sex Work Law Reform Victoria, RhED, Working Man and Red Files) and the Michael Kirby Centre at Monash University. The project aims to support sex workers to develop and describe their vision of how decriminalised sex work should look in Victoria.

1 June 2020

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) publishes our submission regarding freedom of information and the proactive and informal release of government documents. Our submission is critical of the Victorian Government’s approach to sex work laws and FOI laws. We used a case study to highlight a lack of transparency and lack of proper consultations with sex workers before amendments to the Sex Work Act 1994 were quietly passed in late 2019. 

Read our submission

OVIC Explainer on Proactive and Informal Release of Documents

1 June 2020

The Victorian Government announces the selection of a new Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, with current Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton to become Police Commissioner on 27 June.

The views of Victoria Police and in particular the personal views of the Chief Commissioner will influence the government’s decisions on how to decriminalise sex work. 

 

26 May 2020

Australia’s only sex worker radio show, Behind Closed Doors makes a submission to the Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The submission echos the overwhelming sentiment of the Victorian sex industry which is a sense of frustration at the lack of clarification provided by government about the status of sex work throughout the pandemic. 

Read Behind Closed Doors submission

Read all other submissions

 

20 May 2020

"It’s sex discrimination: banks strip brothels and escort agencies of their rights". Amber Shultz from Crikey.com.au reports on the extent of financial discrimination against the sex industry and the surprising way in which the financial services industries so open about the discrimination. 

Read article

12 May 2020

Victorian crossbench MP David Limbrick questions Victoria’s Chief Health Officer (CHO) during the "Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic". Brett Sutton, the CHO, confirmed the government will give consideration and provide clarification to sex workers in relation to the easing of coronavirus restrictions on the various sectors of the sex industry

Read page 16 of Inquiry Transcript

12 May 2020

The Australian Federal Court rules the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should fund people with a disability to access sex workers where there is a need for assistance with their sexual needs. Disability advocate Dr George Taleporos provides commentary on this landmark case. 

Read Dr George Taleporos’ Opinion on Ruling

Read Judgement

1 April 2020

The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) announces it will review and report on Victoria’s laws relating to rape, sexual assault and associated adult and child sexual offences. Guided by broad Terms of Reference, the Commission will report to the Attorney General by 31 August, 2020.

The Terms of Reference include identifying and overcoming barriers victims face when reporting such crimes. This is relevant to sex workers, who often complain of the many barriers they face reporting sexual assault to police. 

Read “Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences” VLRC website

Read “Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy” Press Release

27 March 2020

" ‘I’m clean and safe’: Brothels close but sex workers still ply trade". Farrah Tomazin from The Age writes about how Victorian sex work laws and coronavirus restrictions intersect to permit many sex workers to continue to operate during a pandemic.

Read article

4 March 2020

City of Port Phillip council passes a Motion to support the decriminalisation of sex work. Councillor Tim Baxter tables the Motion which easily passes with only one vote against. A sex worker from Sex Work Law Reform Victoria proudly speaks in support of the Motion. 

Although state/territory governments legislate to change sex work laws, local governments are key and influential stakeholders responsible for approving brothel locations and managing areas where street-based sex work occurs.  This include providing bins, public toilets and managing traffic flow in areas of street-based sex work.

Read Councillor Tim Baxter’s sex work decriminalisation Motion

4 March 2020

Leading sex workers’ rights activist Cheryl Overs is interviewed on ABC Radio National’s "The Religion and Ethics Report" to discuss the difference between the legalisation and the decriminalisation of sex work and what we can learn from the way other countries regulate sex work. 

Cheryl Overs teaches sex work policy and law at Monash University and co-founded the Prostitutes Collective of Victoria, Scarlet Alliance, and the Network of Sex Work Projects.

Listen to Interview on RN Website

1 March 2020

The Australian Banking Association’s new Code of Practice is released. The Code is a form of self-regulation by the banks requiring banks to treat their customers fairly. While there are some improvements benefiting disadvantaged bank customers, the new Code does nothing to end banking financial discrimination against the sex industry. The Code is reviewed every three years. 

Read Announcement from the Australian Banking Association website

15 February 2020

 

An effort to decriminalize sex work in Washington, D.C. faces unlikely opposition: Local sex worker advocates. Washington, DC sex-work movement experiences rifts as it tries to move from the fringe to the mainstream. Should a sex worker rights campaign prioritise resources or diverse representation?

Read Washington Post article

11 February 2020

Northern Territory formally announces the decriminalisation of sex work as Northern Territory Administrator, Vicki O’Halloran announces the assent of the Sex Industry Bill 2019 (NT). 

Read the 11 February 2020 Minutes of Proceedings

11 February 2020

Saxon Mullins announces the official opening of the Advocacy at the Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy Initiative at a panel discussion in Melbourne. The Initiative is a collaborative network of researchers and advocates aiming to change community attitudes about sexual consent and assertively promote best practice in rape and sexual assault law reform. 

Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy Initiative website

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2020