Respecting and protecting sex workers in the ACT

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

The ACT Government has today introduced into the Legislative Assembly new laws to improve the rights and safety protections for sex workers.

The Government has consulted closely with stakeholders following the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s 2012 report on the Inquiry into the Prostitution Act.

Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said that in establishing these laws, the Government recognised that sex workers have the best knowledge and understanding of how their rights and safety should be protected.

The Prostitution Amendment Bill 2018 will:

  • Remove pejorative language across a number of laws and rename the Prostitution Act 1992 to the Sex Work Act 1992 to reduce stigma for the industry and its workers, bringing this language in step with contemporary language use;
  • remove registration requirements for sole operators which will improve social inclusion for sex workers and encourage improved use of health and other services;
  • further strengthen the rights of young people by applying absolute liability to causing anyone under 18 to provide commercial sexual services. Previously this only applied to children under 12;
  • Require operators of brothels and escort agencies to provide appropriate personal protective and safety equipment, including prophylactics, to sex workers free of charge; and
  • removing discrimination against people with STI’s by allowing them to provide or receive commercial sexual services providing they take precautions to prevent transmission or infection.

Comments attributable to Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury:

“Sex work is a valid occupation and sex workers are entitled to the same protection of their health, safety and rights without discrimination as any other profession.

“The changes Government is introducing reflect our commitment to a progressive and socially responsible approach to the commercial sex industry.

“The regulation of sex work can be a controversial issue but there is agreement in the community that Government must do what we can to better protect sex workers.

“This is why we are reducing the requirement for sole operators to register with Access Canberra. In doing so, we are acting to better protect the privacy and personal safety of sex workers, encouraging more sex workers to access health and outreach services.

“Our reforms ensure we have effective regulation to protect the rights and safety of sex workers, their clients and the broader community.”