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Sex Workers Celebrate the Passing of the Bill to Decriminalise Sex Work in the NT

Today, 26th November, 2019, sex workers in Northern Territory and throughout Australia celebrate the passing of the Sex Industry Bill 2019 in NT Parliament. This places NT as only the third jurisdiction in the world to decriminalise sex work. Significantly this bill fully decriminalises sex work in the NT providing sex workers with access to the same workplace health and safety protections as other Territorians. “This is a significant achievement for sex workers in the NT. It builds on decades of advocacy and activism by sex workers and supporters on this issue. We wish to thank foremost NT sex workers who have campaigned for over 20 years for safety and industrial rights. Importantly we also want to thank family and friends of sex workers who have assisted us to maintain our commitment to the campaign,” states Sex Worker Reference Group member Skye Ozanne.

The Sex Industry Bill 2019 fully decriminalises sex work, aligning sex work to existing laws and regulations as well as enabling access to industrial rights, protections and responsibilities. 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 with sex workers, our organisations and National Association.

“We would like to thank the NT Labor Government, and in particular the Honorable Natasha Fyles for listening to us and hearing our issues and concerns throughout the process of decriminalising sex work in the NT,” says SWOP NT Coordinator, Leanne Melling. “We would also like to acknowledge the contribution and support of the Sex Worker Reference Group, Scarlet Alliance and their members, 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, NTCOSS, Darwin Community Legal Services, NT SHBBVU and the Sexual Health Advisory Group, NT YWCA, AFAO, NTAHC and all the other supporters of the decriminalisation of sex work in the NT. We have all worked hard together to ensure sex workers have safety at work.”

NT sex worker, SWRG member and the Chair of the Scarlet Alliance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group, Desirae August states, “Aboriginal sex workers need to be able to access the same protections as other workers, regardless of how we work and how we identify. We need the full decriminalisation of sex work for all of us. This bill provides important changes to the NT sex work laws that will be beneficial to all sex workers, including Aboriginal sex workers, whether we identify as a sex worker or not.”

CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Jules Kim says, “This is a momentous day for all sex workers and sets a positive example that sex workers are valued members of the community, deserving of rights and protections. We applaud the NT Government for listening to sex workers and the evidence in fully decriminalising sex work in the NT. Sex work is work and it is fantastic that it is finally being recognised as such. We hope that these critical reforms will demonstrate the importance of best practice partnerships between sex workers and government and lead to similar campaigns for the decriminalisation of sex work in other states and territories throughout Australia.”


For Comment:
Leanne Melling
SWOP NT Coordinator
Mobile: 0447022332

Jules Kim
Scarlet Alliance CEO
Mobile: 0411985135