Sex workers in the Northern Territory and Australia are celebrating the passing of the Sex Industry Bill 2019 in Parliament of the Northern Territory of Australia with a 16-5 vote (*please note South Australia). This bill fully decriminalises sex work in NT providing sex workers with access to the same workplace health and safety protections as other professions. In this regard, it’s worthy to note that the NT Government refused to remove criminal offences for non-compliant advertising.
The prior legislation in the NT provided no protections for sex workers putting escorts at risk. Since the passing of the Prostitution Regulation Act 1992, the profile of the sex industry in the top end has changed substantially with most lawful sex work provided by independent sex workers rather than escort agencies. The previous framework required NT escorts and companions to register with the police (which as we know are discriminatory and stigmatising). As a result, sex workers faced significant barriers in accessing safety, legal and health protections; not to mention risks that other professions are not exposed to.
This is next level…NT legislation which fully decriminalises sex work, aligning sex work to existing laws and regulations as well as enabling access to industrial rights, protections and responsibilities.
What a momentous and massive achievement for sex workers and supporters in the NT, after years of activism and advocacy.
The process of the Bill from development to its passing has been a demonstration of best practice collaboration and consultation by the NT Labor Government (in particular the Honorable Natasha Fyles) with sex workers and organisations such as Scarlet Alliance, SWOP, Sex Worker Reference Group, Labor Women, Sandra Nelson MLA, Unions NT, United Workers Union, Australian Services Union SA&NT, NT Working Women’s Centre, NT Women’s Legal Services, the Law Society, Family Planning NT, NT Anti-Discrimination Commission, the NT Department of the Attorney General and Justice , NT Department of Health, Department of the Territory Families, AFAO, NTAHC and all the other supporters of the decriminalisation of sex work in the NT.
We applaud everyone’s herculean effort and hard work to ensure the well being of sex workers.
The Northern Territory now joins New South Wales and New Zealand as the only places on the planet to fully decriminalise sex work. Let’s hope that these reforms shows the rest of Australia, and the world that decriminalisation is truly the way forward and that best practice partnerships between sex workers and government is how to best partition for decriminalisation of sex work throughout Australia.
Please note – We’ll be updating our sign up for all Northern Territory based advertisers shortly to ensure that we remain legally compliant.
Image source – Mark Pegrum