Roxana Diamond in The Conversation, August 7, 2020 12.31pm AEST
This article has links that contain graphic content
Many industries and employees have been hurt by COVID-19. But sex workers, who face stigma and discrimination at the best of times, have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
The United Nations has warned,
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers all over the world are experiencing hardship, a total loss of income and increased discrimination and harassment.
As both a researcher in the area and sex worker myself, I have seen how sex workers have been an afterthought in Australia’s responses to COVID-19. And how it has been up to sex workers yet again to protect their community, underscoring the importance of decriminalising sex work.
Whilst research on the prevalence of violence against migrant and refugee women is limited, what is known is that cultural, language and systemic barriers serve to reduce access to safety and support for this group of women, and they are at higher risk of domestic homicide. (AIC 2020)
This also corresponds with lower rates of reporting amongst migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence, as distrust for authorities, limited knowledge of rights and servicesand concerns about both material and cultural ramifications can serve as insurmountable barriers to accessing the supports needed. (AIFS 2018)
What has not yet been investigated is the specific impact of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence. This report from Women’s Safety NSW offers the experiences and professional observations of multicultural domestic and family violence specialists supporting hundreds of these very women at this critical time. What they’ve reported is that migrant and refugee women who are experiencing domestic and family violence are at higher risk than they have ever been before and that urgent action is needed if we are going to save lives.
A review into the decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria is currently underway. Join us to learn about sex work decriminalisation from an expert panel including representatives of the Scarlet Alliance, Sex Industry Network, Vixen Collective, SWOP NT and Respect QLD.
The event will feature presentations on the current regulatory framework in different Australian jurisdictions and the lived experiences of sex workers under the criminalised model, followed by a panel discussion covering issues such as licensing, mandatory STI testing, and recent reform efforts.
Forum date & time: Wed, 29 July 2020 at 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM ACST
International Sex Workers Day on June 2 provides an opportunity for us to support the rights of sex workers in South Australia and advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work.
Sex work is criminalised in South Australia which means that those engaging in relevant sex work activities can be prosecuted for criminal offences. SIN, SIDAC (Sex Industry Decriminalisation Action Committee) and Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) advocate for decriminalisation which is seen as a best practice model by sex workers and supportive community-based organisations.
The decriminalisation of sex work would improve the safety, sexual health, emotional wellbeing and financial security of sex workers. Whilst sex workers may be more vulnerable to assault and exploitation, research shows this vulnerability is impacted by the policing, stigma and lack of labor rights which current sex work laws encourage.
In a recent statement SIDAC said:
“Sex work will always exist, but is up to us to determine and guarantee, the conditions and safety of those involved. South Australia must decriminalise the industry in the best interests of both sex workers and the broader community.”
On this International Sex Workers Day we continue to support the decriminalisation of sex work in South Australia and its potential for positive impacts on the human rights of sex workers and the health of sex workers and the general public.
NOTES:  Platt, L., Grenfell, P., Meiksin, R., Elmes, J., Sherman, S. G., Sanders, T., Mwangi, P., & Crago, A. L. (2018). Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies. PLoS medicine, 15(12), e1002680. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680Bottom of Form
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, 2020
Developed under the guidance of a project reference group comprised of key academics, clinicians and researchers in the areas of LGBTQ theory and practice, domestic and family violence interventions and social work practice, this research highlights the need to support the LGBTQ community in developing readiness to recognise domestic and family violence, and then seek support.
Identifying and responding to LGBTQ DFV/IPV can present specific challenges.
DFV/IPV in LGBTQ relationships can be difficult to identify and understand due to the “heterosexual face” of domestic violence.
DFV/IPV in LGBTQ relationships can involve unique tactics of abuse, including identity-based abuse.
Trauma from discrimination and stigma (minority stress) impact experiences of DFV/IPV for LGBTQ community members, but are not directly causal.
LGBTQ community readiness to recognise DFV/IPV and seek support, as well as service responses to LGBTQ people experiencing DFV/IPV, must be strengthened.
The Towards a Safe Place project has created resources for LGBTIQA+ communities to use both as individuals or in communities to support and inform at risk individuals of available services and supports in relation to Domestic Violence and to increase awareness and understanding of Domestic Violence and its impact within LGBTIQA+ communities.
We have worked closely with LGBTIQA+ communities to develop these resources and are thankful for the help and support of our Reference Group comprising individuals, community organisations and service providers who have helped us in the development of these resources.
We hope the resources are used to inform and support at risk individuals and the wider community on LGBTIQA+ specific Domestic Violence and that service providers use the resources to continually develop and improve service responses and avenues for reporting domestic violence.
Training in culturally appropriate LGBTIQA+ domestic violence service delivery and response strategies is available and has been developed in partnership with Uniting Communities Adelaide’s Bfriend Project and a local LGBTIQA+ social group Pride of the South. If your organisation would like information on the training please contact us on (08) 81688700 or by email
The project was supported by South Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, Bfriend (Uniting Communities) and Pride of the South.