Scarlet Alliance

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"Sex Legislation 'No Protection'" Loretta Johnston, The Examiner, 29 May 2009

Neither opponents of the sex industry nor those who work within it believe current legislation protects sex workers from exploitation, according to a review of the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005.

The review, conducted by the Justice Department, was a requirement of the legislation that came into effect in January 2006 and made brothels illegal.

According to the Australian Christian Lobby's submission, "prostitution is inherently exploitative" and the legalisation of some types of sex work in Tasmania "still sent the message that it was acceptable to use women for sex, meaning that sex workers are still being exploited."

National sex workers' group the Scarlet Alliance however, submitted that the criminalising of brothels only supported "the stereotype that sex work is inherently wrong."

Sex workers working legally in Tasmania said because they were required by law to be self-employed, clients where aware that they were "more vulnerable."

Submissions from those in the sex industry also mentioned a lack of peer support, education and security as a result of sex workers being forced into isolation.

A Health and Human Services Department submission argued that from a public health perspective, a decriminalised industry was safer for workers' physical health and personal safety as health services were more readily accessible and sex workers were more likely to report incidents of violence to police.

The review also found that there was a strong safe sex culture within the Australian sex industry.

Tasmania remains, however, the only juristdiction without a dedicated sex worekr support service - something that the Scarlet Alliance has continually lobbied for.

Attorney General Lara Giddings said that the Government would consider the recommendations of the review.

"This review does not look at whether the Tasmanian model is the best model when compared with others around Australia or the world and I would welcome further debate in the community about the right model for Tasmania," she said.

"But given the strength of views on either side of the debate, we have to be realistic about whether consensus can ever be reached on how the sex industry is regulated in Tasmania."

Difficult Debby "Rub and Tug"


  • Produce a pamphlet that outlines the legal status of sex workers in Tasmania for distribution to sex workers.
  • Work towards a dedicated community-based sex worker health initiative.
  • Consider making it an offence for a sex worker to be discriminated against because of his or her means of earning a living.
  • Consider the suitability of alternatives legislative models for adoption in Tasmania.