Scarlet Alliance "Submission on Spent Convictions Act (SA) 2009"

This submission outlines Scarlet Alliance and our membership’s concerns around the exemption of sex work related convictions from the eligibility criteria of the Spent COnvictions Act. Part 1, Section 5 of the Act under the heading ‘Scope of the Act’ 2b states that a sex offence cannot be spent under this Act. Section 5 of the Spent Convictions 2011 Regulations give a definition of sex offences to include (a) (iii) commercial sexual offences and related offences.
Excluding sex work related convictions from the Act does not support the objective of a spent conviction scheme, which is to remove unnecessary barriers preventing former offenders from re-entering society.
Grouping sex work convictions along with rape and child porn as a sex offence is not warranted and not in line with community standards. Sex work is legal or decriminalised in many states and Territories of Australia and sex workers are protected by anti-discrimination legislation in some jurisdictions. Sex workers are not a danger to the community and there is no evidence to support the exclusion of sex work related offences from being able to be spent.
This exclusion of sex work related convictions has a disastrous effect on people who have been convicted for sex work related convictions’ ability to gain employment and has hugely negative impacts on areas such as mental health, finances and study as available options are diminished and people lose confidence. Many people with sex work related convictions retreat from participating in any activity where a criminal history records could be checked for fear being ‘outed’ due to the intense stigma and discrimination that sex workers face.