Sex Worker Rights

Sex Worker Rights

At Survivor Connections, we know that the crossover between sex work and exploitation is a challenging topic.

We know that not everyone may understand or agree with all of our viewpoints, but our approach to sex work is based on the lived experience of sex work and sexual servitude/trafficking, and is informed by both.

This is a safe space for sex workers to find support and freedom from exploitation.

The Right to Choice, The Right to Autonomy, The Right to Safety, The Right to Freedom.

Legalisation and decriminalisation

There is different sex work legislation in every state in Australia, including decriminalised, partially decriminalised and criminalised models . Traditionally the industry has been driven underground by punitive, criminalised systems that make sex workers afraid to get help for fear of being arrested themselves.

Australian sex workers are still fighting for a decriminalised model Australia-wide to ensure that sex worker rights are protected and so that workers can access help when they need it.

At Survivor Connections, we recognise the right of consenting adults to engage in sex work, and realise that for many, it can be an empowering and financially rewarding choice.

However, we also recognise that there is diversity of experience within the industry, and that there are unique challenges that can create vulnerability to abuse and exploitation for some people.

We believe that engaging in sex work should be a choice that someone makes for themselves and should never occur under duress or force either by another person or circumstances.

Click on the boxes to learn more about Sex worker rights:

What does the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 (Commonwealth Legislation) mean for the Sex Industry?

Sex workers have the same human rights to safety and freedom from abuse at work as any other person. Activists and advocates within the industry are calling for abuse and exploitation to be addressed via anti-discrimination legislation and unionisation

All work places in Australia have a legal obligation to ensure that discrimination and harassment are addressed appropriately.

Establishments in the sex industry have equal obligations to prevent harm as well as addressing it when it occurs. If that is something you are interested in, you can find more information here:

"You’ve been paid so you have to do whatever they want…"

NO – You have been paid for your time.
What you chose to share with someone in that time is your choice.

What does "safe, autonomous, and consensual sex work" mean?

At Survivor Connections we believe that the main issues around exploitation come to the sex industry by third party entities (NOT by clients or workers engaging in consensual sexual activity).

We believe that exploitation usually happens in the form of big ‘commissions’ that are taken directly from the worker’s booking money by a third party.

The money a third party makes is is directly dependent on how many bookings a worker does, and often the services offered (higher amounts paid for specific services). This means the third party entity is incentivised to pressure the sex worker to do things they don’t want to do, or to work when they don’t want to work.

This is an issue of sexual consent.

What does affirmative consent look like in the Sex Industry?

New South Wales (NSW) has implemented affirmative consent laws in the context of sexual assault, and we hope that other states will soon follow. The Sexual Assault Amendment (Consent and Communication) Act 2021, which came into effect on 1 May 2021, amended the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) to define consent as free and voluntary agreement. The amendment further explains that consent must be communicated by words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in sexual activity and must be ongoing throughout the sexual activity.

Under the new laws, if a person is charged with a sexual offense, they will need to demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to ensure that their sexual partner had affirmatively and voluntarily consented to the sexual activity. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges. The new laws aim to shift the focus of sexual assault laws from a victim’s resistance to a perpetrator’s responsibility to obtain affirmative consent.

Victoria has recently passed similar legislation, that specifically includes the violation of terms in which sex is agreed upon, including payment, use of a condom etc.

As with any other sexual encounter, a sex worker can withdraw consent at any time, and no one should violate the conditions of the consent given Eg. stealthing (removing condom without the other person’s knowledge), withholding of payment etc.

At Survivor Connections we aim to empower sex workers to know their rights, and provide access to resources and support, to work free from exploitation or abuse.

Find out more about exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery:

Survivor Connections