6 August 2020: The Domino Effect

What is the domino effect and how does that relate to Victoria’s Sex Work Review?

Many of us as kids remember board games from days gone by, including dominos. Just like domino tiles, things in politics can also push over what’s next door. Look at progressive law reform in Australia over the last decade – safe access to abortion clinics is a great example. Over the last decade, most Australian jurisdictions have enacted legislation that prohibits intimidation or harassment of people within certain zones around abortion clinics. Such laws were introduced in response to regular anti-abortion protestors who would pray outside clinics and harass women entering them, trying to change their mind about abortion. 

Safe access zone laws are a great example of state legislation introduced in one jurisdiction, creating a domino effect, with most other states following suit. 

2013 Tasmania first jurisdiction to enact safe access zone legislation

2015 ACT and VIC enact safe access zone legislation

2017 NT enacts safe access zone legislation

2018 NSW enacts safe access zone legislation

2018 QLD reviews its abortion laws

2020 WA and SA introduce safe access zone bills

One reason safe access zone laws are becoming accepted is their success at achieving their stated goals. A recent High Court challenge to safe access zones was easily defeated, affirming their status as constitutional.

Victoria’s Sex Work Review must be examined in the context of what other jurisdictions are doing. Last year the NT decriminalised sex work. This year Queensland’s sex work decriminalisation campaign continues to develop. And 2020 sees South Australia table another bill to decriminalise sex work. 

If Victoria successfully decriminalises sex work it will likely increase pressure on other jurisdictions to follow suit. Images of childhood domino games have never been so relevant.