The Andrews Labor Government will conduct a review to consider the decriminalisation of sex work in order to achieve better public health and human rights outcomes.
The regulation of sex work has not undergone a significant review in Victoria since 1985 – and given calls for sex work reform across Australia and growing interest in decriminalisation – it is time to consider this reform.
The targeted review will be led by Member for Northern Metropolitan Region Fiona Patten, a tireless advocate for sex worker rights. Key stakeholders will be consulted to ensure all aspects of decriminalisation are considered and alternative views heard.
The review will consider:
- All forms of sex work, including sex work in commercial brothels and escort agencies, sexual services provided in massage parlours and similar businesses, sex work by small owner-operated businesses, and street-based sex work
- Workplace safety including health and safety issues and stigma and discrimination against sex workers
- Regulatory requirements for operators of commercial sex work businesses
- Enforcement powers required to address criminal activity in the sex work industry, including coercion, exploitation, debt bondage and slavery
- Local amenity and the location of premises providing sexual services and street-based sex work
- The promotion of public health and appropriate regulation of sex work advertising
- And the safety and wellbeing of sex workers, including the experience of violence that arises in the course of sex work and as a consequence of it, and worker advocacy for safety and wellbeing.
Global health and development bodies, including Amnesty International and the UN Development Program, support full decriminalisation, rather than other models of regulating sex work.
Both New South Wales and New Zealand have decriminalised sex work within the last 25 years.
New Zealand’s scheme allows local governments to make by-laws for zoning of brothels and sex work signage, and is largely preferred by decriminalisation advocates.
The six-month review will commence early next year, with Ms Patten to provide recommendations to government before the end of 2020.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz
“This is about ensuring the sex work industry is operating as effectively and safely as it should be.”
“Fiona Patten is well placed to lead a review into decriminalisation and consider whether it would minimise opportunities for corruption, increase transparency and improve sex worker safety and access to protections.”