So the Andrews Government of Victoria has launched an inquiry into the laws around sex work, which will be led by crossbench state MP Fiona Patten – with the government planning to bring on a bill in 2021. In short, this is fantastic news given our community and the Vixen Collective know that the current laws in Victoria are no longer fit for purpose.
So what has brought on this inquiry?
Originally we thought it might have something to do with Northern Territory decriminalising sex work. Of course that might still be the case. However on further research, we came across data from the Crime Statistics Agency which shows that:
That tells us that there is a growing shift in the adult services and companion industry from street based sex work to online advertising platforms just like ours which offer free advertising for all regional based sex workers. Such online escort directories in Australia allow escorts in Melbourne and Victoria to work for themselves, book clients online and working out of hotels or the clients home.
Under Victorian law, street prostitution is a crime but selling sex at escort agencies and registered brothels is permitted under strict licensing conditions. According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, there are 616 approved brothel managers and 115 licensed sex work business operators as at 30 June. There are also ones that operate illegally.
Having regard to the above, there is also some heavy advertising restrictions in Victoria and Melbourne escorts pursuant to the Sex Work Regulations 2016 and Sex Work Act 1994 (VIC). For example, an advertisement must not:
Whilst locals like Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross of St Kilda has said ‘they’re off the street and onto the net’ which evidences a shift (which is great for safety of sex workers and resident alike), Mr Gross, went one better to a knowledge that in support of decriminalisation, importantly “We’re also seeing the growth of harm minimisation as opposed to an enforcement model, and I think that’s important.”
Fingers crossed for decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria from 2021!