27 August 2021: Is this a Rushed Process?

Today, 27 August 2021, submissions to the new Department of Justice and Community Safety consultation were due. I suspect we’re not alone in that we left our submission to the last minute. But you have to ask, is two weeks enough time for all stakeholders to put together detailed responses to nightmarishly complex policy questions involving churches and brothels?

The Victoria Planning Provisions provide a guide for council regulation in Victoria. They are hard to read….and 1013 pages long. The one thing councils and sex workers seem to agree on is the lack of time we’ve had to process, research and respond to the latest announcement. 

Melbourne is still in a coronavirus lockdown. Our team members are at home most of the time. Days blend into nights. We end up reading computer screens at all times. Coronavirus cases are once again surging around us. Bonding and connecting team members is so much harder when we cannot meet in person to chat, laugh and have those much valued light moments.

Most people and groups, including Councils, continue to struggle to fully comprehend what our key message is:

“Existing general business, council, tax, workplace and health laws already in place are adequate to regulate the sex industry and address all the concerns that people have. These laws apply to all industries, including the sex industry. If such laws are adequate for everyone else, why shouldn’t they be adequate for sex workers.”

The Municipal Association of Victoria represents councils in Victoria. Their submission to the August 2021 consultation gives you a hint about the mindset of councils; they’re anxious, uncertain and fearful. 

“Metropolitan councils have also immediately identified that their complaint load may multiply exponentially.”

This grave prediction is based on what exactly?

New South Wales decriminalised sex work in 1995. A 2015 survey of 16 councils  in that state analysed the number of complaints received by councils about brothels and home based sex work businesses. The study found a handful of complaints and that:

‘Over the period 2013-2015, within a population of 1.76 million people, only 1 complaint about amenity impact of a home based sex worker was received. After initial investigation it was decided that no action was required.’

When it comes to sex workers in society there has always been a wide gulf between feared impact on communities versus actual impact.

24 April 2020: Will we hear from clients?

prostitution client client of sex workers businessman

Who will make submissions to Fiona Patten’s Sex Work Review? We certainly hope to hear from a diverse range of sex workers, but it’s inevitable that anti-sex worker voices will be heard too. Last year the Northern Territory called for submissions on sex work reforms and a good percentage of the submissions came from Christian or radical feminist groups. These groups tend to favour the Nordic Model, which demonises clients, portraying them as one-dimensional violent misogynists. 

So will there be room in the inquiry to hear from clients? After all, there would be no sex industry without them. In certain circumstances, clients, like sex workers, are criminalised by Victoria’s sex work laws, and they, too, are arguably stigmatised. We seldom hear from clients in debates about sex work issues. Their voices are left out. Is it time to start listening to clients and encourage their voices to be heard?