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Advocacy

Decriminalising Sex Work: It’s time!

10/09/2020

It was great news to learn late last year that Victoria is embarking on a review process to consider the decriminalisation of sex work.

This is a very important review, and it’s a real concern that the current legal structures governing sex work in Victoria contribute to the ongoing stigmatisation and marginalisation of sex workers, and so increase the risk of women working in unsafe, dangerous conditions that can put health and wellbeing at risk.

It’s still a criminal offence in Victoria to engage in sex work while living with HIV, despite the fact that with effective treatment and an undetectable viral load, and the use of condoms, sex work could be conducted safely.

Decriminalising sex work would be a great chance to reduce the social stigma around sex work, by facilitating a more open community dialogue, and encouraging policies and practices in the sex industry that support workers to access testing, treatment and care, and that protect the rights and safety of workers and their clients.

The review is being led by the Member for Northern Metropolitan Region, Fiona Patten, who will be familiar to
many as a long-time advocate for the reform of sex work laws. Positive Women Victoria has already had the chance to contribute to this process, which is a great chance to get Victoria’s laws right, and align with the best practice we know is the way to support the health of individual workers, while protecting workers’ clients and helping reduce the additional burdens of stigma in the community and fear of prosecution.

If you have lived experience working in the sex industry or would like to find out more, we’re very happy to chat with you in confidence. You can also make direct contact about the review by email at swr@justice.vic.gov.au.