Scarlet Alliance submission on Select Committee on Job Security on December 2, 2021.
“This submission defines and reports on the impact of insecure or precarious employment in the sex industry on the economy, workplace rights and conditions, and social cohesion. Sex work is not inherently precarious; rather, the precarity of sex work in the Australian labour market is primarily dependent on the surrounding legislative and social contexts.1 The impacts of insecure or precarious work facing sex workers are exacerbated by the criminalisation of sex work and the historical and ongoing stigma and discrimination we experience.
In many ways, the current state of sex work legislation and policy in Australia blurs boundaries between different types of employment relationships, causing a lack of clarity about the conditions of work and challenges to accessing redress. This, of course is exacerbated by sex work’s status as one of the most stigmatised occupations in Australia, and the resulting discrimination and villification sex workers experience.
In many parts of Australia, sex work is still regulated by police. Police are never suitable regulators of industry, and this remains one of the greatest barriers to sex workers access to industrial protections and redress. In order to reduce precarity of work for sex workers in Australia, sex work must be recognised across all jurisdictions as work. Uniform laws and policy across Australia, enabled by the full decriminalisation of sex work, will improve sex worker access to industrial rights, including legal options for skilled migration.2 This requires significant jurisdictional law reform, and the ability of the current Australian government agencies regulating work to become more dynamic and adaptable to the informal nature of the modern sex industry in Australia.
Sex worker voices must be centered in discussions about how to improve access to these labour rights and human rights.3 We view this submission as the beginning of a conversation with the Select Committee, and look forward to further engagement with this process.”