Ending Planning Discrimination Against Sex Workers

Recognising the ongoing discrimination that sex workers face simply for doing their job, today Abigail secured unanimous support for our motion calling for an end to planning discrimination against sex workers and for local councils to be provided with educational briefings to address the enduring stigma around those in the industry.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: I move:

That private members' business item No. 996 outside the order of precedence be considered in a short form format.

Motion agreed to.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (16:15): I move:

That this House notes that the following Greens-initiated Local Government NSW 2020 conference motion was carried by the Board of Local Government NSW on 11 December 2020:

"That Local Government NSW:

1.Notes that NSW decriminalised sex work 25 years ago. Decriminalisation in 1995 resulted in improved work safety, extremely low rates of HIV/STIs, increased transparency and better access to justice, health and services for sex workers.

2.Notes that sex workers still face discrimination and harassment on the basis of their occupation.

3.Acknowledges that the 2015 NSW Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels recommended that NSW Health consult with Local Government NSW about any additional assistance, such as educational briefings, that it could give councils to assist them to make sound development assessment decisions around sex services premises from a public health perspective, and that the NSW Government supported that recommendation. Local Government NSW therefore requests that NSW Health provides these education briefings to Councillors in both the current and each subsequent council term."

(2)That this House commend the Local Government NSW 2020 conference motion concerning sex workers to the Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MP, and the Minister for Health and Medical Research, the Hon. Brad Hazzard, MP.

(3)That this House requests NSW Health, in consultation with Local Government NSW and industry representatives including the national peak sex worker organisation Scarlet Alliance and the Sex Worker Outreach Project [SWOP], provide the sex services educational briefings, as recommended by the 2015 Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels, to councillors in both the current and each subsequent council term.

The motion relates to the need for educational briefings and other support to be provided to local councils regarding applications for sex work businesses and premises. It has been nearly 25 years since the decriminalisation of sex work. In that time the evidence is clear that decriminalisation protects workers and saves lives. Despite that, progress has long since stalled. Sex workers are routinely discriminated against for their chosen occupation. They are denied housing, refused services and forced to endure the entrenched stigma embedded deep within our society day in and day out.

That is why we are continuing to campaign for sex workers to be afforded protection under the Anti‑Discrimination Act. It will allow them to get on with doing their job free from the fear of harassment, assault and discrimination. This motion is based on The Greens-initiated motion that was recently passed at the Local Government NSW 2020 conference. It recognises the history of discrimination that sex workers face on the basis of their occupation. It also acknowledges that the 2015 New South Wales Select Committee on the Regulation of Brothels recommended that NSW Health consult with Local Government NSW about what additional assistance and support could be provided to local councils and councillors such as educational briefings to ensure that planning discrimination did not continue. Planning discrimination is a real issue. Sex workers are forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops that are simply not there for other people seeking to establish their business.

Some local government areas seek to restrict sex workers to industrial zoning away from commercial areas. It is a practice that is unsafe and unprofitable. No other business faces such active discrimination. Some councils have attempted to entrench this discrimination in their planning controls and others are simply uninformed as to their rights and responsibilities. They need assistance to make sound development assessment decisions around sex services premises from a public health perspective. That is exactly why we need to educate and support councils in how they assess and manage applications for sex work businesses. They are telling us that they want that. This motion was passed by the board of Local Government NSW at the local government conference. It is this Government's responsibility to provide education and support and The Greens call on them to do that in consultation with the Sex Worker Outreach Project and Scarlet Alliance. It must be made a priority. I commend the motion to the House.

 

For the full transcript see Hansard here.

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