My Submission for the Inquiry into the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 – Exposure Draft Legislation

Political Lobbying

THE SENATE

STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Inquiry into the Human Rights and
Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 – Exposure Draft Legislation

 

I am writing this submission to ask that my human rights as a legal, lawful sex worker be included in Federal Law in line with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 so that State Law cannot discriminate against me and remove my civil liberties like what happened recently in Queensland.

I live and work in Queensland and I have been in complete turmoil over the recent Amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act, sec 106C, which now allows LEGAL DISCRIMINATION specifically against sex workers in the area of accommodation.  I was physically ill.  This came about because of a high profile anti-discrimination case in Queensland where the legal sex worker GK was found to have been discriminated against and WON. 

Then we all were reminded of the actual depth of corruption and discrimination against sex workers in the Queensland government when our own Attorney-General Mr Jarrod Bleijie began a very public campaign, along with our Premier Mr Campbell-Newman and other Australian Christian Lobbyists to perpetrate the most heinous vilification and discrimination crime against sex workers.  Their political interference in this case is blatant, disrespectful and makes a mockery of existing laws.  What’s the point of human rights if they can simply be taken away at the whim of renegade politicians and rednecks whenever they feel threatened?  I think Queensland is corrupt.  The anti-discrimination case debacle is a prime example of why.

Despite 100% of the submissions received being against supporting legal discrimination, the Bill was still passed.  The arguments that were used in parliament to support legal discrimination, appeared to be based on misguided morals that did not seem to care about the rights of sex workers, arguing that the rights of hotelier and moteliers were more important.  They did not seem to care that there were already laws in place to protect hoteliers and moteliers from the usual disruptive guest in their establishment, because they were collectively discriminating on the basis that we are sex workers.  They were discriminating against a minority group based on negative stereotypical assumptions about sex workers that are simply fabrications.

The amount of potential harm this Bill can cause to sex workers, their partners, children, families and friends is HUGE.  How can this type of discrimination be allowed to occur in Australia in this day and age?  Since when is legal discrimination ever an option?  We may as well be living in Uganda where they are trying to pass the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill at the moment.

I have experienced discrimination directly in my life as a sex worker.  I have been evicted from my leased accommodation, physically locked out of my carpark, my gate codes changed so I couldn’t get in.  I have had money stolen by real estate agents withholding part of my rent for no reason other than because I am a sex worker. 

I used to play Roller Derby.  I was outed as a sex worker by someone to my team and I was shunned by them.  I was targeted by them on the flat track.  I was not included in social events.  I was segregated and ostracised.  I joined roller derby to feel more empowered and to actively participate in the community.  I was met with stigmatisation and marginalisation, both direct and indirect discrimination. 

My self esteem plummeted.  I began to feel depressed.  I withdrew into my apartment and avoided contact with the outside world.  I generally felt bad about myself and it took me a long time before I could pick myself up and move on.

I pay tax.  I work within the Law.  I respect myself, my colleagues and my clients.  I would like to be shown some respect by the Australian government in Federal Law so that my faith in Australia signing up to international Human Rights Constitutions is not thrown back in my face.  I want to know that my Federal government is taking the recommendations of the United Nations reports about sex workers seriously.

Sex workers are real people, with real lives, with real families, with real children, with real friends.  We are EVERYWHERE in society but most of the time you don’t even know we are there.

 

Kind regards,

Jodine

Sex Worker

www.escortjodine.com

Stop Legal Discrimination in Australia

Political Lobbying

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

The Queensland Attorney-General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie has successfully campaigned to change the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to allow legal discrimination to occur in Queensland.  Section 106C was passed to specifically target sex workers in the area of accommodation.  It effectively removes the ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’ part of the Act which has protected sex workers from discrimination by hoteliers/moteliers, landlords and body corporates to date.  Our basic human right to live and work in peace, free from harassment and vilification have been compromised.

Supporting ‘legal’ discrimination is an oxymoron and against the United Nations ‘Universal Human Rights Constitution’.  The Prostitution Act 2000 made sex work legitimate work within Queensland and sex workers are protected under the provision of ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’. Despite other area’s of law which currently still protect hoteliers/moteliers, landlord’s and Body Corporates from noisy guests, legal discrimination puts sex workers, their partners, children, friends and family directly into danger and at risk of abuse and corruption all over Australia.

On 21 November 2012, the Senate referred Exposure Draft legislation for the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 (Exposure Draft Bill) to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report.  The Exposure Draft Bill seeks to consolidate existing Commonwealth anti-discrimination law into a single Act, replacing the Age Discrimination Act 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.

The Exposure Draft Bill proposes a number of reforms to Commonwealth anti-discrimination law, including:

·         introduction of a single, simplified, test for discrimination applying to all protected attributes;

·         coverage of additional protected attributes including sexual orientation and gender identity;

·        coverage of discrimination and sexual harassment in any area of public life;

·         a streamlined approach to exceptions, including a new general exception for justifiable conduct;

·         additional measures to assist and promote voluntary compliance;

·         improvements to the complaints process to improve access to justice; and

·      some adjustments to the functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The committee is due to report on 18 February 2013, and has invited written submissions to its inquiry by 21 December 2012.

We must ensure that sex workers human rights are included in the above recommendations.  You can contribute actively by making a submission recommending this and why.  The Exposure Draft Bill, explanatory notes and associated materials may be accessed from the committee’s website at www.aph.gov.au/senate_legalcon.

There appears to be widespread discrimination against sex workers in general throughout Australia. Discrimination, that also violates the basic Human Rights of sex workers. Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand and New South Wales. It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and about public opinion in Australia.

In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e. service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009). Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.

Jodine

SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

Youth Justice (Boot Camp Orders) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

Political Lobbying

I am writing this submission for the Director of Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee who have been asked to report on the recent Youth Justice (Boot Camp Orders) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 by the 22nd of November, 2012.

As a legal sex worker in Queensland, I am appalled by the proposed amendment to the Anti-discrimination Act 1991 in particular, hidden within the Youth Justice (Boot Camp Orders) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012.  This Amendment effectively targets the removal of the one piece of legislation within the Act that protects the civil liberties and human rights of sex workers.   In the state of Queensland, it is illegal to discriminate against ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’.

The proposed new Amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act 2012 is therefore both illegal and discriminatory by all intents and purposes.   Supporting ‘legal’ discrimination is an oxymoron and against the United Nations ‘Universal Human Rights Constitution’.  The Prostitution Act 2000 made sex work legitimate work within Queensland and therefore legal sex workers are protected under the provision of ‘Lawful Sexual Activity’.  This new Bill is clearly singling out sex workers and does not make any reference to other business activities which may be conducted by other guests or patrons using various rented or leased accommodation to conduct their work.

This Bill  gives individual hoteliers/moteliers, body corporates and landlords the right to evict sex worker’s from their hotel rooms, apartments and homes on a whim, any time of the day or night, just because they either suspect or know someone is a sex worker and working.  This new law also extends to clients who will also be evicted if they get ‘caught’ bringing a consenting sex worker back to their hotel room, or place of residence.  This is blatant discrimination on a grand scale. It has all the elements of the former Joh Bjelkie-Petersen days most Australians want to forget.

This new Bill must be scrutinised in line with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 which is now in effect.  The Attorney-General, Honorable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January this year reminding us that all new laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.

Under the Commonwealth Of Australia Constitution Act says: COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – SECT 109 Inconsistency of laws When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.

We are witnessing Puritanical Moral Police with God Complexes cavorting with Renegade Rednecks in positions of power who collectively gang up to bully minority groups and manipulate the media who then use propaganda and scaremongering tactics to mislead the public in order to gleen political votes which ultimately ensures that their pockets are fully lined.  Enough to pay for a good curry at least!

This Amendment will severely affect sex workers in every aspect of their lives.  It will also negatively impact their partners, children, family, friends and their clients.  Sex workers will be forced onto the street at all hours of the day and night.  Accommodation will be refused as word is quickly spread from one hotel to another, one real estate agency to another, one data base to another.  Current law abiding citizens will now become criminals.   Stigma and marginalisation will increase to even more damaging levels and sex workers health and well-being will deteriorate.

As it is, the number of sex workers accessing community organisations like RESPECT Inc, Queensland’s Sex Worker Organisation, for support, is increasing.  Sex workers are already finding themselves out on the street in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere with no place to go.  These illegal evictions are occuring because no one is protecting our basic human rights.  Sex workers live with this ever-present threat to their health and safety on a daily basis.

Last year, my then partner and I were evicted from my leased apartment.  We were physically locked out of the underground carpark we had been using for the past 6 months.  The gate codes were changed and we were told we were not allowed to park there anymore.  The onsite manager began to harass my guests at first as they came through the door and up to my apartment.  Including a RESPECT Inc support worker doing Outreach with me.  He then informed my real estate agent and attempted to prove I was a sex worker by going through the local paper. He then rang me on my work phone and left text messages.  He then told everyone in the complex that I was a sex worker and I was subject to rude stares, hostile looks and general beligerance from my otherwise unsuspecting neighbours.

The real estate agent then issued me with a Breach of Tenancy stating that I were running an illegal escort agency and we were told our lease would not be renewed.  We were not refunded all of our bond even though the apartment was beautifully kept.  We were not given a reference and we were not assisted to find other accommodation with the same real estate agency.  I provided the onsite manager and the real estate agent with pamplets from RESPECT Inc, ADCQ and the Prostitution Licensing Association (PLA) in an attempt to educate them about sex work and the law but it made no difference.

We had not done anything wrong or illegal.  I would discreetly sex work while my partner was away working for up to two weeks at a time.  I would then cease work when he came home for a week.  We were polite and courteous to everyone in the complex.  We minded our own business.  We didn’t have loud late night parties and no complaints were made against me, by my neighbours or clients.

So when a high profile case like the recent Civil & Administrative Tribunal ruling between GK v Dovedeen Pty Ltd, Mrs Joan Hartley, ruled in favour of sex worker GK, all hell breaks loose!  We all felt a sense of hope that maybe we could trust the ADCQ and QCAT to get it right and apply existing laws to protect our civil and human rights.  Unfortunately, what we all witnessed was bigotry and corruption and widespread systemic discrimination at the highest level of government.  I agree with Janelle Fawkes of the Australian Sex Worker’s Association who states that “‘Systemic Predjudice’ is most definitely at the core of all anti-discrimination cases throughout Queensland”.  We are witnessing just how far up the hierarchy it has reached.

It is my shared belief that the Attorney-General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie is grossly abusing his political powers with other key political figures like Mr Campbell-Newman, and other Christian based groups and individuals, for political gain.  By interfering in this case he is perpetrating abuse against a specific vulnerable minority group and this is morally corrupt and unethical.  Mr Bleijie and his cronies should not be above the law.  He clearly has a bias and discriminatory agenda.  His actions are arguably enough to warrant a collective Anti-Discrimination complaint being made against him for further investigation.

Please seriously do something about what is going on under our noses.  There appears to be widespread discrimination against sex workers in general throughout Queensland and Australia.  Discrimination, that also violates the basic Human Rights of sex workers.  Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).  Pushing new laws through like this one, is an attempt to over-ride existing laws that have proven evidence that glows in the dark!  Even then, as we re-enter the Dark Ages, people who proclaim to see the light, are all blind.

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand and New South Wales.  It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and about public opinion in Australia.  In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e.  service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009).  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.

By Jodine

© Copyright, 2012, escortjodine.com.  All Rights Reserved

This submission can be found here along with others.

REGERENCES:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-02/hoteliers-given-power-to-evict-sex-workers/4350560 

 A Schloenhardt & Human Trafficking Working Group, Happy Birthday Brothels: Ten Years of Prostitution Regulation in Queensland, (2009).

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2007). The Impact of the Prostitution Law Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers: Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee. Christchurch: Otago University

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2009). The impact of decriminalisation on the number of sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy 38(3) 515-31, 526, 528.

Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) 2011. Trafficking in persons: The Australian Government response 1 July 2010–30 June 2011. Canberra: APTIDC.http://www.ag.gov.au/Peopletrafficking/Documents/Trafficking+in+Persons.pdf

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, C Fairley,  (2010), ‘Improving the Health of Sex Workers in NSW: Maintaining Success’, NSW Public Health Bulletin 21(3-4) 74–7.

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, L Watchirs Smith, K Schneider, JM Kaldor, MY Chen, CK Fairley, S Tabrizi, The Sex Industry in New South Wales: A Report to the NSW Government, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2012,http://www.kirby.unsw.edu.au/sites/hiv.cms.med.unsw.edu.au/files/hiv/attachment/NSWSexIndustryReportV4.pdf. |

Bennachie, C. (2010).  Decriminalising Sex Work in New Zealand – What it means to sex workers.  Paper presented at the International AIDS Conference, Vienna, July 2010.

Christine Harcourt, S Egger, B Donovan (2005), ‘Sex Work and the Law’, Sexual Heath 2(3) 121–8.

Christine Harcourt, J O’Connor, S Egger, C Fairly, H Wand, M Chen, L Marshall, J Kaldor, B Donovan, (2010), ‘The Decriminalisation of Prostitution is Associated with Better Coverage of Health Promotion Programs for Sex Workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34:5 at 482.

Davis, S. and Shaffer, M. (1994), Prostitution in Canada: the invisible menace or the menace of invisibility?, Vancouver, Commercial Sex Information Service, http://www.walnet.org/csis/papers/sdavis.html.

Donovan, Harcourt, Egger, Schneider, O’Connor, Marshall, Chen, and Fairley, The Sex Industry in Western Australia: A Report to the Western Australian Government, National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales. Sydney, 2010

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

O’Connor, C., Berry, G., Rohrsheim, R. and Donovan, B. (1996), ‘Sexual health and use of condoms among local and international sex workers in Sydney’, Genitourinary Medicine, 72: 1, 47–51.

Penny Crofts, ‘Brothels and Disorderly Acts’, Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice (2007) 1:2 at 1-39.

Perkins,R., Lovejoy, F. (2007), CallGirls:Private SexWorkers in Australia, Crawley:University of Western Australia Press.

PLA, Legal advice re: sole operator sex workers providing prostitution from motel rooms [Available at: http://www.pla.qld.gov.au/theLaw/legalAdviceSoleOprtrSxWk.htm]

Plumridge, L. and Abel, G. (2001), ‘A “segmented” sex industry in New Zealand: sexual and personal safety of female sex workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25: 1, 78–83.

QCAT,   GK v Dovedeen Pty Ltd & Anor (No 3)  [2011] QCAT 509 (10/ADL134) Brisb Ann Fitzpatrick, Member 25/10/2011 [available at:  http://www.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2011/QCAT/509

QCAT, GK v Dovedeen Pty Ltd and Anor (No 2)  [2011] QCAT 445 (10/ADL134) Brisb C Endicott, Senior Member 15/09/2011 [available at:  http://www.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2011/QCAT/445

QCATA, GK v Dovedeen Pty Ltd and Anor  [2012] QCATA 128 (11/APL416) Brisb PJ Roney SC, Presiding Member Dr B Cullen, Member 31/07/2012  [available at:
http://www.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2012/QCATA/128

Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. (1987). Final Report. Volume 1: Corruption. Commissioner: The Hon Justice JRT Wood, 13. Retrieved from: http://www.pic.nsw.gov.au/files/reports/volume1.pdf

Scambler, G. (1997), ‘Conspicuous and inconspicuous sex work: the neglect of the ordinary and mundane’, in G. Scambler and A. Scambler (eds.), Rethinking Prostitution: Purchasing Sex in the 1990s, London and New York: Routledge.

Scarlet Alliance, Submission on Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012, http://scarletalliance.org.au/library/traffick_sub12/

Sex Services Premises Planning Advisory Panel, Sex Services Premises Planning Guidelines, NSW Department of Planning, 2004,http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/ssppg_04.

Susanne Dodillet and Petra Ostergren, ‘The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects’ Conference paper presented at the International Workshop Decriminalizing Prostitution and Beyond: Practical Experiences and Challenges The Hague, March 3 and 4, 2011,http://www.plri.org/sites/plri.org/files/Impact%20of%20Swedish%20law_0.pdf.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/changes-to-anti-discrimination-act-gives-motel-operators-power-to-evict-guests-suspected-of-providing-paid-sex-services/story-e6frg6n6-1226508386517

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP, Attorney-General.  ‘Human Rights Check for  New Laws’, MEDIA RELEASE, 4 January 2012, http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/First%20Quarter/4-January-2012—Human-Rights-check-for-new-laws.aspx

TVNZ News Online, (2009). Court told how cop bribed prostitute for sex. Downloaded 27th Dec 2011, from http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/court-told-cop-bribed-prostitute-sex-3127025

UNAIDS, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work, Geneva, 2009, http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2009/JC2306_UNAIDS-guidance-note-HIV-sex-work_en.pdf.

Weitzer, R. (2005), ‘New directions in research on prostitution’, Crime, Law and Social Change, 43, 211–35.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/s109.html”

NSW Call For Submissions on Brothel Regulation

Political Lobbying

I am writing this submission in support of my sex worker colleagues in New South Wales (NSW) who may soon have their human rights undermined and replaced with new laws re-instating registration and legislation.  I am addressing my concerns directly to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC, via the Better Regulation Office) and to the inter-agency working party being asked to develop options to improve the regulation of brothels in NSW.

As a sex worker and a stakeholder, I do not support the 3 Options being reviewed.  It would appear as if decriminalisation is being replaced by licensing and registration and this does not protect my human rights and flies in the face of United Nations, Human Rights and Evidenced-based Research recommendations.

-Option 1: Improve the current regulatory system, including improving decision-making in planning for sex services premises and improving the sharing of information between NSW regulators. This option might equally be relevant for adoption as part of registration and licensing options.

-Option 2: Introduce a registration system for owners and operators of commercial sex services premises. The register could be maintained by a community-based peer outreach body or by a Government agency.

-Option 3: Introduce a licensing system for owners and operators of commercial sex services premises. The licensing authority, in determining suitability for a licence, would consider: whether the applicant is a fit and proper person; whether it is in the public interest for the licence to be granted; and whether appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of sex workers and clients.

The current regulatory system in NSW is a system of Decriminalisation.  This means there are no special laws or criminal offences in relation to sex industry premises.  The registration or licensing options mentioned, are two completely different regulatory systems and in the context of Option 1, do not appear to improve the current regulatory system.

Decriminalisation means that my business is already regulated like other businesses, and subject to existing regulatory mechanisms such as local council planning and zoning regulations, WorkCover and the Australian Taxation Office.   If anything, I would like to see improvements made so that these regulations are applied fairly and sex workers are treated like any other business.  I think that if existing laws are already in place for businesses but are not being applied in the same way as other industries, then this amounts to discrimination.   The main cause of ‘illegal’ or ‘unauthorised’ premises are overly-restrictive council regulations.

I would like to see the Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) include protection for sex workers on the basis of ‘lawful sexual activity’ or at least an acknowledgement that sex work is work and as such cannot be discriminated against as our legal occupation, vocation, calling or ‘trade’.  Councils often regulate on moral grounds and treat sex services premises differently to other businesses with similar amenity impacts. This is unjustified and discriminatory. More than 30% of brothels that have approval had to fight their way through costly Land and Environment cases for it (Donovan, Harcourt, Egger, Fairley, 2010).

I would like to see the appointment of an experienced sex worker liaison officer within the Department of Planning.  They could help Councils to understand the justification and rationale of decriminalisation and apply the principles in good faith. Then perhaps we may begin to see an improvement in the impact of planning on the public health prevention front and on the Occupational Health and Safety of sex workers and their clients.  Perhaps they will discover the reality of amenity issues?

This issue paper states the need for the review is due to concerns about a large number of unapproved (‘illegal’) brothels in NSW and to reduce and/or prevent crime and corruption.   Please don’t forget that decriminalisation was introduced because of corruption by NSW police and by removing police as regulators has successfully addressed corruption (Royal Commission, 1987).  Police are inappropriate regulators of the sex industry and I am glad they’re out!  Decriminalisation means sex workers can access support in the event of a crime.  There does not appear to be a need to reform a system that is already working.  I need Decriminalisation to continue to protect me from all forms of corruption, discrimination and violence.

Sex services premises present minimal amenity impacts to the community. There is no evidence to suggest trafficking is a facet in NSW.  Sex workers travel for work – just like other workers.  What did push sex workers to have to pay for contracts and engage third parties to facilitate travel was being refused visas or being discriminated against by embassies when their sex work status was known (Scarlet Alliance, 2012).

What we do have evidence for is that there are very low numbers of trafficking cases in Australian sex industry (Anti-People Trafficking Inter-departmental Committee (IDC) 2011).  However when sex industry is decriminalised and sex work is recognised as work, we have choices around where and how we work, choices to change workplaces if we want to and to seek support if we need it. Again, there is no evidence of widespread trafficking in the NSW sex industry.

This is no excuse to replace an already established and effective model such as Decriminalisation in NSW.  Any attempt to bastardise the existing model will only serve to pander to the whims of a few who base their decisions on moral grounds rather than fact.  Re-instating registration and legislation will force sex workers back 20 years and into the hands of the criminal underbelly we struggled to get out from under!  Do we really want to go there again?

There is no evidence of a large number of “illegal” brothels in NSW but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that licensing has created a large number of “illegal” brothels in Vic and Qld (Donovan et al, 2010).  Licensing creates a two tiered industry – the minority who can comply and the majority that cannot and are therefore considered “illegal”.  It is in sex workers best interests (and our clients) to be discreet and minimise any impacts on neighbours.  I have been living and working in my apartment for the past 18 months with no issues.  It is mostly the case that people are unaware that sex services premises exist in their suburb.

A recently published study also looked into safe sex compliance among sex workers in NSW and found that safe sex compliance among all sex workers exceeds 99%.  New South Wales is being heralded as taking a positive stand with its current decriminalisation recording these unprecedented new statistics of compliance by sex workers using condoms.  This is directly reducing the rates of sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS amongst sex workers compared to other groups in the community (Donovan Harcourt Egger Fairley, 2010).

I take full responsibility for providing safer sex practices and as a result I have less risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease than the general public!  Sex workers have been in the forefront of the STI best practice for at least the last thirty years and safe sex is the industry standard.  Similarly in New Zealand, sex workers are taking “all reasonable steps to ensure a prophylactic sheath (condom) or other appropriate barrier is used” (Prostitution Reform Act 2003 cited in NZPC website).

In conclusion, Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only way to move forward on the issue of human trafficking, sex slavery and violent crime against sex workers in Australia.  It is the only accepted course of action that the United Nations advocates globally because it recognises the overall positive impact on human rights, health and safety and addresses issues of harm minimisation in the area of disease prevention, violence and illegal activity (UNAIDS, 2009).

In an article written on her blog, titled ‘Brothel Licensing Not The Answer’, dated November 1st, 2011, Cate Faehrmann, MP for the Green Party, reminds lawmakers not to get caught up in the current frenzy and make knee-jerk decisions that do not take into account that the majority of legal sex workers are not caught up in this illegal activity.  The majority of sex workers perform their work safely and legitimately. Faehrmann cites evidential based research that shows decriminalisation is recognised as the world’s best practice standards for sex workers and their clients.

Faehrmann also talks about how the current licensing scheme regulating brothels in Queensland, namely the Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA), does not address 90% of the sex industry, which is “…unregulated and illegal” (1).  While it is true that licensing does not address 90% of the industry, we can not be sure what percentage of that is ‘illegal’.  Sole traders in Queensland are also heavily regulated.

The problem in Queensland is that most of the strategies that sex workers use to maintain their safety and sanity like working in co-operatives, having a driver, debriefing with another sex worker in your workplace for example, becomes ‘illegal’ because of bad, poorly processed laws.   But even in a place like NSW where you have decriminalisation, people still revert back to the legal vs illegal dichotomy – so brothel owners who hate the competition argue that brothels that don’t have proper council planning permits are ‘illegal’.

Please focus your attention to improving the inconsistent implementation of existing sex industry guidelines across local government and other areas.  Sex workers have human rights too and it is therefore inappropriate to change or create new laws during a media frenzy!  Sex workers are not criminals either.  Earlier in the year, the Attorney-General, Honourable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January, 2012, reminding us that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 is now in effect.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  New laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.

The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.  I am not ashamed to be a sex worker.  I provide an outstanding service delivery in the face of huge stigma and discrimination.

I am an expert in my field and therefore I am informed about what the actual issues are.  I don’t want to see politically motivated lynch parties at government level take precedence over globally recognised, evidence-based research and best practice.  This would mean corruption at the highest level and symptomatic of a government that is incapable of caring for its people.  Please don’t take away my rights and revert to unsafe legislation and criminalisation.

by Jodine

© Copyright, 2012, escortjodine.com.  All Rights Reserved

References:

A Schloenhardt & Human Trafficking Working Group, Happy Birthday Brothels: Ten Years of Prostitution Regulation in Queensland, (2009).

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2007). The Impact of the Prostitution Law Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers: Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee. Christchurch: Otago University

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C., (2009). The impact of decriminalisation on the number of sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy 38(3) 515-31, 526, 528.

Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) 2011. Trafficking in persons: The Australian Government response 1 July 2010–30 June 2011. Canberra: APTIDC.http://www.ag.gov.au/Peopletrafficking/Documents/Trafficking+in+Persons.pdf

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, C Fairley,  (2010), ‘Improving the Health of Sex Workers in NSW: Maintaining Success’, NSW Public Health Bulletin 21(3-4) 74–7.

Basil Donovan, C Harcourt, S Egger, L Watchirs Smith, K Schneider, JM Kaldor, MY Chen, CK Fairley, S Tabrizi, The Sex Industry in New South Wales: A Report to the NSW Government, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2012,http://www.kirby.unsw.edu.au/sites/hiv.cms.med.unsw.edu.au/files/hiv/attachment/NSWSexIndustryReportV4.pdf. |

Bennachie, C. (2010).  Decriminalising Sex Work in New Zealand – What it means to sex workers.  Paper presented at the International AIDS Conference, Vienna, July 2010.

Christine Harcourt, S Egger, B Donovan (2005), ‘Sex Work and the Law’, Sexual Heath 2(3) 121–8.

Christine Harcourt, J O’Connor, S Egger, C Fairly, H Wand, M Chen, L Marshall, J Kaldor, B Donovan, (2010), ‘The Decriminalisation of Prostitution is Associated with Better Coverage of Health Promotion Programs for Sex Workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34:5 at 482.

Davis, S. and Shaffer, M. (1994), Prostitution in Canada: the invisible menace or the menace of invisibility?, Vancouver, Commercial Sex Information Service, http://www.walnet.org/csis/papers/sdavis.html.

Donovan, Harcourt, Egger, Schneider, O’Connor, Marshall, Chen, and Fairley, The Sex Industry in Western Australia: A Report to the Western Australian Government, National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales. Sydney, 2010

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

O’Connor, C., Berry, G., Rohrsheim, R. and Donovan, B. (1996), ‘Sexual health and use of condoms among local and international sex workers in Sydney’, Genitourinary Medicine, 72: 1, 47–51.

Penny Crofts, ‘Brothels and Disorderly Acts’, Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice (2007) 1:2 at 1-39.

Plumridge, L. and Abel, G. (2001), ‘A “segmented” sex industry in New Zealand: sexual and personal safety of female sex workers’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25: 1, 78–83.

Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. (1987). Final Report. Volume 1: Corruption. Commissioner: The Hon Justice JRT Wood, 13. Retrieved from: http://www.pic.nsw.gov.au/files/reports/volume1.pdf

Scambler, G. (1997), ‘Conspicuous and inconspicuous sex work: the neglect of the ordinary and mundane’, in G. Scambler and A. Scambler (eds.), Rethinking Prostitution: Purchasing Sex in the 1990s, London and New York: Routledge.

Scarlet Alliance, Submission on Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012, http://scarletalliance.org.au/library/traffick_sub12/

Sex Services Premises Planning Advisory Panel, Sex Services Premises Planning Guidelines, NSW Department of Planning, 2004,http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/ssppg_04.

Susanne Dodillet and Petra Ostergren, ‘The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects’ Conference paper presented at the International Workshop Decriminalizing Prostitution and Beyond: Practical Experiences and Challenges The Hague, March 3 and 4, 2011,http://www.plri.org/sites/plri.org/files/Impact%20of%20Swedish%20law_0.pdf.\\

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP, Attorney-General.  ‘Human Rights Check for  New Laws’, MEDIA RELEASE, 4 January 2012, http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/First%20Quarter/4-January-2012—Human-Rights-check-for-new-laws.aspx

TVNZ News Online, (2009). Court told how cop bribed prostitute for sex. Downloaded 27th Dec 2011, from http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/court-told-cop-bribed-prostitute-sex-3127025

UNAIDS, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work, Geneva, 2009, http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2009/JC2306_UNAIDS-guidance-note-HIV-sex-work_en.pdf.

Weitzer, R. (2005), ‘New directions in research on prostitution’, Crime, Law and Social Change, 43, 211–35.

FIFO Inquiry Submission 2012

Political Lobbying


I am writing this submission in response to the current Inquiry by the House of Representatives, into the ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia.

Current sensationalised media articles are wrongly reporting that sex workers who FIFO/DIDO to regional Queensland, are ‘unregulated prostitutes who are contributing to the growth of sexually transmitted diseases’.  This is inaccurate.  Sex work is heavily regulated in almost every state in Australia (except NSW where sex work is decriminalised) and there is no epidemiological evidence that suggests that sex workers contribute to the rise in STI’s in any way, shape or form what-so-ever.  In fact, there is numerous evidence based research that suggests the opposite.

Sex workers have been in the forefront of the STI best practice for at least the last thirty years and safe sex is the industry standard.  Sex workers are taking “all reasonable steps to ensure a prophylactic sheath (condom) or other appropriate barrier is used” (Prostitution Reform Act 2003 cited in NZPC website).  A recently published study also looked into safe sex compliance among sex workers in New South Wales (NSW), and found that safe sex compliance among all sex workers exceeds 99% (Donovan Harcourt Egger Fairley, 2010).  Sex workers do not need laws to compel them to use condoms and it is insulting that such a law was deemed necessary in 2003 in Australia, given that history and research clearly indicated it was not required (Donovan et al 2010: 74).

Associate Professor John Scott of the University of New England told Australian Mining that there was no evidence to suggest that a rise in sex workers translates into a rise in sexually transmitted diseases.  Media articles like ‘Freelance Sex Workers Factor in Explosion of Infections’ are unsubstantiated and defamatory and arguably subject to class action law suits by multiple complainants.  There are also no studies that suggest that rural sex work has increased at all.  In fact, New Zealand and NSW are reporting a decline in the numbers of street based sex workers since decriminalisation (Mossman, & Mayhew, 2007).

There has also been no sudden increase in the numbers of visible sex workers on the streets generally, as claimed would happen post decriminalisation by opposition groups against the New Zealand Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003 (PLA), dispelled by Abel, Fitzgerald and Brunton (2009:526. 528).  Quite the contrary.  Only 10% of the entire sex worker industry are street based sex workers (Hubbard, 2004; Scrambler, 1997; Weitzer, 2005).  Since their numbers on the street are reported to be declining, it is more accurate to state that New Zealand and NSW are achieving desirable outcomes because the legislation is consistent and supportive and recognises that people make better choices for themselves when they feel more empowered to do so, under decriminalisation.

Consider that street based sex workers only account for about 7-10% of the entire estimated sex worker population (Hubbard, 2004; Scrambler, 1997; Weitzer, 2005).  This number easily escalates when we have groups of renegade landlords, real estate agents and hoteliers throwing sex workers from their accommodation and out onto the streets, where they invariably think they belong.  Often these legal sole traders have paid for their accommodation in advance, are refused a refund and are also refused other accommodation in the area, as word spreads to other providers who also discriminate.

Similarly, we see real estate agents accusing their tenants of running ‘escort agencies’ from their leased premises, despite sole trading and practising lawful sex work, who are then issued with a ‘Notice of Breach’ of Body Corporate By-laws and then have their lease cancelled without a reference.   Forcing sex workers onto the the street by making it difficult to secure accommodation, increases the risk of violence being perpetrated against them in the exact same way it does forcing sex workers to relocate to less visible area’s on the street.  It forces sex workers into vulnerable and dangerous situations and into the arms of Australia’s criminal underbelly (Hubbard, 2004).

Laws need to be made in Australia that are consistent and in line with globally recognised Human Rights best practice.  It is no good to say that legal sex workers are able to practice ‘lawful sexual activity’ from their accommodation by the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ADCQ) and then have the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) find any weak excuse to undermine this, such as what happened in the recent QCAT decision against the legal sex worker GK, about to be appealed.  Blatant inconsistencies like this, highlight just how difficult it is for sex workers (and the community) to work within these heavily regulated and meaningless laws.  It should be unlawful and illegal for a sex worker to be evicted from anywhere just because they are a sex worker.

Decriminalisation of the sex industry is the only accepted course of action that the United Nations advocates globally, because it recognises the overall positive impact on human rights, health and safety and addresses issues of harm minimisation in the area of disease prevention, violence and illegal activity.  I agree with Faehrmann in her article, Brothel Licensing Not The Answer, who says “…the government should be looking at ways to address the sometimes arbitrary and inconsistent implementation of existing sex industry guidelines across local government, rather than making criminals out of currently law abiding citizens.”

The New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA) is achieving such success in its positive health outcomes because it was designed in consultation with the public, sex workers and sex worker organisations during a three year parliamentary debate.  It reflects the nature and scope of sex work.  It balances the need’s of the community with the human Rights of sex workers.  The Act is designed to (a) safeguard the human rights of sex workers and protect them from exploitation; (b) promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers: (c) be conducive to public health: (d) prohibit the use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age; and (e) implement certain other related reforms (cited in NZPC:Law).

Proven harm-minimisation models are being applied by sex worker organisations and healthcare providers throughout Australia and New Zealand (and the rest of the world) with a great deal of success, all-be-it limited under current legislation in heavily regulated/criminalised states in Australia.  These same service providers are funded by Government.  The overall objective is to reduce the impact of the harm caused to self or other by educating those directly affected in order to raise their awareness of the alternatives that may (or may not) be available to them.  Harm-minimisation stems from the belief that people are at various stages of development and as such need to be approached and met at their level of awareness, while being given the tools, support and resources to facilitate a process whereby individuals feel empowered to make better choices for themselves and ultimately the community.

There seems to be an entirely false set of mores circulating within Australia that attempts to wrongly link sex workers with violence, drug addiction and paedophilia.  Rape is violence and is perpetrated throughout society against women (and men) in every area of society.  Only 7% to 17% of brothel and escort sex workers in Australia report ever injecting drugs (Harcourt et al., 2001; Perkins & Lovejoy, 2007; Pyett et al., 1996)The WA report shows a table 3.27 that suggests that drug use in Perth brothels is around the same as rates in the general population (with the exception of much higher rates of tobacco use).

Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence to link sex workers and paedophilia.  Paedophiles do not discriminate between boys and girls and are more often than not, someone we know, who is trusted and has complete access to our children.  They do not walk around with a sign around their neck nor do they belong to any one sub-section of society.  Sex workers are not a homogeneous group and therefore there are no more issues that are more important to certain sectors of society than others (O’Connor et al., 1996: Plumridge and Abel, 2001).

In conclusion, there appears to be widespread discrimination against sex workers in general throughout regional Australia.  Discrimination, that also violates the basic Human Rights of sex workers.  Lyon asserts that health outcomes of sex workers are directly affected by stigmatisation and marginalisation and that “It is described as the single biggest issue facing sex workers – even those who operate legally” (Lyon, 2011: 2.3.1, 45).

This is currently being reflected in the stories media are publishing that appear more like a frenzied attacks between FIFO/DIDO sex workers trying to practice lawful sex work and citizens behaving unlawfully as if they are justified, despite laws to the contrary.   Media are fuelling this unhelpful debate by not reporting accurately and relying on misinformed comments from an uneducated public, with the sole purpose of selling newspapers.  They are pandering to assumed popular belief and taking no responsibility for their professional code of ethics.

There is also a misrepresentation of the nature and scope of sex work and sex workers both collectively and individually.  The media appear to only be reporting one side of the story, completely ignoring the facts.  There appears to be a push to make new laws in an attempt to over-ride existing ones that are flawed, replacing them with even more Draconian versions designed to control rather than empower.  Over-regulation, as opposed to decriminalisation, makes illegal operations more attractive because the legal sector is often kept smaller than the number of sex workers available to work (Lyon, 2011:10).

There has to be a shift away from the pre-existing moralistic viewpoint, to one that supports a public health and human rights approach such as New Zealand’s.  It is apparent that there needs to be more constructive discussion and debate between sex workers, the government, lawmakers and public opinion in Australia.

I would like to remind the House of Representatives, that the Attorney-General, Honourable Nicola Roxon, released a media statement on the 4th of January, 2012, reminding us that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 is now in effect.  Human Rights will be “…bought into sharper focus in Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations”.  New laws must consider “… protection and promotion of human rights”.

The principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go, apply to everyone including sex workers.  In Queensland, it was found that sex workers who were working legally (i.e.  service providers in licensed brothels, legal sole traders) had better mental health than those in illegal settings (Seib et al 2009).  Harcourt et al (2005) suggested that decriminalization seemed to provide the best outcomes for sex workers health and welfare and that this is a desirable outcome that affects the community as a whole.  Jx

Please view this and other Submissions for the Inquiry at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ra/fifodido/report.htm.

REFERENCES:

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L. and Brunton, C. (2007), ‘The impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the health and safety practices of sex workers’, Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee, University of Otago, Christchurch.

THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP, Attorney-General.  ‘Human Rights Check for  New Laws’, MEDIA RELEASE, 4 January 2012, http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/First%20Quarter/4-January-2012—Human-Rights-check-for-new-laws.aspx

The WA Report, 2007, ‘The Sex Industry in Western Australia Basil Donovan, Christine Harcourt, Sandra Egger, Karen Schneider, Jody O’Connor.

Hubbard, P. (2004), ‘Cleansing the metropolis: sex work and the politics of zero tolerance’, Urban Studies, 41: 9, 1687–702

Lyon, W., (2011). Prohibitory Prostitution Laws and the Human Right to Health, Research Dissertation presented for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of LLM in International Human Rights Law (Nottingham Trent University/HETAC), Law School, Griffith college, Dublin. pg 10

Mossman, E., & Mayhew, P., (2007). Key Informant Interviews: Review of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Pg 10

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=Law

Perkins,R.andLovejoy, F. (2007), CallGirls:Private SexWorkers in Australia, Crawley:University of Western Australia Press.