A better deal for ACT sex workers

Released 31/07/2018

Canberra sex workers will have greater rights and safety protections under new laws passed in the Legislative Assembly today.

Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury said the reforms passed today by the Legislative Assembly in the Prostitution Amendment Bill 2018 reflect industry expectations by removing derogatory references to sex workers, and ensure they are better protected in the community.

“The Bill makes a range of important amendments, including renaming the Prostitution Act 1992 as the Sex Work Act 1992.

“One of these amendments will mean that sole operators in the sex industry will no longer be required to register with Access Canberra.  Previously, failing to register was a criminal offence. Unfortunately this meant that sex workers who had not registered due to concerns about their privacy, were reluctant to access important health and outreach services,” Minister Rattenbury said.

The new laws will also:

  • strengthen the protection of young people by making the offence of causing anyone under 18 years to provide commercial sexual services an absolute liability offence;
  • require brothel and escort agency operators to provide appropriate personal protective and safety equipment, including condoms to prevent transmission or infection, to sex workers free of charge;
  • ensure that sex workers are held to a same standard to the rest of the community, in removing the offence prohibiting people from providing or receiving commercial sexual services while infected with an STI. Sex workers represent a low risk demographic for STI transmission, as sex workers are required to use prophylactics when engaging in particular kinds of sexual activities.

“Sex workers are entitled to the same protection of their health, safety and rights without discrimination as any other profession, and these reforms reflect the Government’s commitment to supporting a progressive and socially responsible sex work industry,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“These changes show the Government has listened to stakeholders following the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety’s 2012 report on the Inquiry into the Prostitution Act.

“The amendments in the Bill are a step in the right direction towards protecting the rights and personal safety of sex workers, their clients and the broader Canberra community.”

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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