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"Oldest profession remembers dangerous past before decriminalisation" 24 Nov 2010

Sex workers celebrate coming of age in the parliament house that granted bipartisan reprieve from police corruption. Sex Workers and supporters from around Australia meet to remind government that decriminalisation works. Four generations of speakers tell of life before and after decriminalisation in NSW.

What: Media panel, Interviews & Photo Opportunity with historic figures of the sex worker rights movement.

When: 1pm, Wed 24 November

Where: NSW Parliament House Media Briefing Room, L6, follow the red umbrellas!

"Today we honour those who came before us, fighting the doomsayers who suggested the world would cave in as a result of decriminalising sex work," Janelle Fawkes, Scarlet Alliance CEO said today. "More successful than Victoria and Queensland, where a large percentage of the industry is still underground, NSW leads the world alongside New Zealand, in effective regulation of the Sex Industry. The NSW model has higher compliance than other states and territories, excellent public health outcomes, is low cost to the community and government and provides improved Occupational Health and Safety outcomes for sex workers."

Four generations of sex workers compare their lives before and after decriminalisation

Sex work veterans including Carmen, Roberta Perkins and Julie Bates will be speaking on the sex industry in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Lest we forget why sex work was decriminalised in NSW; the bad old days of criminalisation are behind us and we congratulate sex workers and Government for making it work. Scarlet Alliance Vice President Ally Daniel will be urging sex workers to continue the fight against bad laws and for anti-discrimination coverage for sex work - in NSW and across Australia!

Sydney icon Carmen says:

"I was there alright, from 1959 through the '60s, another whole time and era. They were very heavy the cops, took money off us. You couldn't escape the police, they would give you a bad hiding, once they threw me in jail for a week. Most of these cops and mafia guys from Kings Cross at that time are all dead now. But I live on to tell my story, the last of the living legends of Kings Cross. I was 19 years old then and now in my 70s. Its better for workers now."

Sociologist Roberta Perkins

“The 1970s started with horrendous criminalisation and policing of sex workers, but by 1979 the first stages of decriminalisation had begun – held even today as model sex industry legislation worldwide. This is a prime example of a humanitarian approach to the sex industry; sex work is simply an occupation and should be treated like any other.”

Founding member of Australian Prostitutes Collective Julie Bates:

“We have come a long way from crooked cops, pay-offs, being treated as criminals and living and working in fear and isolation. Before the world celebrated decriminalisation in 1995, you never knew whether you'd end the night in the lock up or be home to pay the baby sitter. If you couldn't pay the bribe your number was simply up.”

Ally Daniel, Vice President, Scarlet Alliance:

“On this day we celebrate the 21st birthday of Scarlet Alliance and recognise we have achieved so much. No longer are we, as sex workers, the pariahs of society. Anti-discrimination legislation, decriminalisation in other states, along with sex worker input into HIV and Trafficking policy and funding are all still on our agenda in 2010. The next 21 years will see sex work further legitimised and put whorephobia in the same basket as racism, sexism and homophobia.”

Decriminalisation of Sex Work Facts:

  • A recent three state study demonstrated sex workers in NSW have low rates of STIs when compared to sex workers within other regulatory models (NCHECR, LASH Study, 2010)
  • Decriminalisation has not caused either expansion or shrinkage of the industry however competition drives brothel lobbyists to frame non compliance as high and increasing.
  • There is still no recorded case of HIV transmitted between sex workers and clients
  • sex workers STI rates are still lower than the general community
  • Cost of decriminalisation is low compared with other states ( – Annual reports demonstrate registration has cost over $6,000,000.00.
  • Brothel compliance within a decriminalised regulatory framework is high compared with other models ( - Queensland after ten years has only 25 legal brothels).
  • Local councils can take a proactive approach and include sex work premises in their LEP