Sex Workers’ Voices Victoria is a pop-up project led by by The Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University Melboune in the run up to the Victorian Government’s Sex Work Decriminalisation Review, chaired by Fiona Patten MP. The aim of the project is to support sex workers to develop and describe their vision of how decriminalised sex work should look in Victoria.
Yesterday Sex Workers’ Voices Victoria hosted the first of its Community Conversations with sex workers who live and/or work in Victoria. The subject for discussion was Laws and Regulations. Two members of Sex Work Law Reform Victoria’s core group took part. Over 20 sex workers joined us for a dynamic and detailed discussion about the general legal issues around sex work as well as some of the finer points of law. There are so many different ways of working, and figuring out a comprehensive regulatory model will keep a lot of people busy for a while yet. The important thing is that sex workers keep informing the process. We were lucky to have such a wide range of workers, including gender-diverse and migrant workers, all with different experiences of sex work share their perspectives and expertise.
As we know, the laws regulating sex work vary across each Australian state; many of our participants had worked interstate, and they shared their knowledge and observations about the practicalities of working in other places. We heard from someone with substantial experience of doing sex work in other countries and they compared their working life here to working in overseas settings.
One thing came out strongly: no matter how differently various jurisdictions, local or international, regulate sex work, decriminalisation is best practice. The other thing is an ever growing appreciation of how complicated this whole business is: the business of sex work and the business of regulating it.
The conversation went so well that nobody wanted to finish at the scheduled end time and we went 30 minutes over. We could easily have kept going.
Our job now is to work out what will constitute best practice when it comes to decriminalisation in Victoria.
Greatly looking forward to the next Community Conversation.