Australian sex workers warn that anti-sex work project will lead to stigma

Joseph McCormick January 4, 2017
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Sex workers in Australia’s state of Victoria have expressed concern at a new government anti-sex work project.

The Victorian state government announced the new policy this week.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said that AUD$300,000 would be invested in Project Respect, which is described as a ‘support service’ for female sx workers.

She said: “The government is ensuring that sex workers and victims of sex trafficking get the help they need without fear of stigma or discrimination.”

The project “is doing powerful work in providing support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” she added.

But the funding, which was released in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence – which identified female sex workes as vulnerable, has proven controversial for sex workers.

They have called it ill-thought out and said the project is not accessible to women in the sex industry.

The project has been protested by sex workers, who urge the government to adopt a system which decriminalises consesual sex work.

It has been criticised for implying that sex work is immoral or criminal.

Speaking to the Star Observer, one sex worker named Alice said the project does not help sex workers.

“Project Respect only want to ‘help’ me if I want to stop working, they want to make me ‘free’ from sex work – I’d like to access services that can actually help me and be free from their opinions,” she said.

Others said they submitted evidence to a public consultation but that it “didn’t have any effect” and described the project as “intrinsically harmful”.

More: Australia, Australia, sex work, sex workers, Victoria

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