The Adelaide Show Podcast putting South Australian passion on centre stage

211 – Decriminalising Sex Work in SA

Decriminalising sex work in SA - The Adelaide Show Podcast with Tammy Franks MLC and sex worker Scarlett Jones

South Australian parliament should soon be voting on Decriminalising Sex Work in SA and because there is a lot of deceptive fear mongering being pushed by opponents, we have created this episode to stand as a resource of fact in the lead up to the vote. Our primary motivation is one of social justice, based on the opinion that sex work is work. Therefore, to have workers fearing arrest should they ever need to seek help from police, is plain wrong and needs to be sorted ASAP.

Our guests for this episode are Tammy Franks MLC, and sex worker, Scarlett Jones.

This week, the SA Drink Of The Week is Faith Shiraz.

Nigel will try to stump us in IS IT NEWS on the topic of sex work.

In 100 Weeks Ago we hear from three, South Australian romance authors.

In stories without notice, we note the Tinker Tailor Toy Show at the Royal Adelaide Show

And in the musical pilgrimage … Todd Fischer has a song by Heaps Good Friends.

And please consider becoming part of our podcast by joining our Inner Circle. It’s an email list. Join it and you might get an email on a Sunday or Monday seeking question ideas, guest ideas and requests for other bits of feedback about YOUR podcast, The Adelaide Show. Email us directly and we’ll add you to the list: [email protected]

If you enjoy the show, please leave us a 5-star review in iTunes or other podcast sites, or buy some great merch from our Red Bubble store – The Adelaide Show Shop. We’d greatly appreciate it.

Running Sheet: Decriminalising Sex Work in SA

00:00:00 Outtake
Theme and Introduction. Our original theme song in full is here, Adelaidey-hoo.
00:02:25 SA Drink Of The Week
St Hallett 2012 Faith Shiraz Barossa Valley … tasting notes
00:13:18 Stories Without Notice
Please do yourself a favour and see the Tinker Tailor’s Magical Toy Shop at the Royal Adelaide Show. Adelaide choreographer and artist, Rhys Bobridge, who some listeners will know from series one of So You Think You Can Dance, did the choreography and the cast is stellar. Very capable human beings. One group from NSW said it was Vegas-level and unlike anything they have in the eastern states. So I think it is important we give credit where it is due, shake off any tall poppy habits, and just enjoy some visually and auditorially stunning performance for FREE daily on the Goyder Stage at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 6pm.
00:15:48 Tammy Franks MLC and Scarlett Jones

South Australia’s current “prostitution” or “sex work” laws are often poorly understood and are difficult to police. As it stands, the act of providing a service for payment is not itself illegal but a number of the activities surrounding it are. So much so, that in a 2016 statement by Assistant Police Commissioner Linda Fellows to a Select Committee of parliament, she said, “we don’t take a view on whether the sex industry should be decriminalised or not; however, I think it is reasonable to say, and I think we have been consistent in our views over many years, that there are some definite challenges and difficulties in policing the current legislation as it exists.” So for clear thinking people who acknowledge that sex work is work, there is a compulsion to ensure these workers have access to the same rights and protections as the rest of us do because at the moment they cannot report crimes against them to the police because their own reporting could be used as evidence to charge them with crimes. So as of September 2017, parliament is poised to vote on this issue again and will choose to either ignore sex workers as victims of crime and support the status quo, legalise sex work and seek to regulate it through various government agencies, or pursue the more enlightened model as is working in NSW and New Zealand and decriminalise sex work. To guide us through this discussion, we have Tammy Franks MLC, and “elite and discrete companion”, Scarlett Jones.

Tammy Franks, I believe you have been involved with this Bill from the early days and sat on a special committee that was charged with making sure there will be no unintended consequences from decriminalisation. How did this committee come about? How did the committee’s final report turn out.

Is there any sign of a vote coming up soon?

We will look at what is in and NOT IN the Bill shortly. Just note: Here is a link to a site that shows current sex work laws around the world.

Maggie McNeil, who writes a blog called The Honest Courtesan (frank commentary from an unretired call girl), and last week wrote a piece in which she despaired that sex workers are not going to come forward to fight the fight for decriminalisation. Here’s a quote from her article, Be The Change:

It has been said that trying to organize sex workers is like herding cats. I’ve always found it darkly amusing that prohibitionists paint us as meek, passive, spineless creatures at the mercy of anything with a penis, when in actuality sex workers in general are the most stubborn, willful, independent and even defiant women I know. In fact, if you look at anti-sex worker rhetoric from prior to about a century ago, you’ll notice that these exact characteristics were used to support the claim that we are “bad” women, because the Establishment likes women meek, passive and spineless and we’re the opposite. We like to do things our own way, on our own schedule, by our own rules, and we’ve been well-known since Biblical times for rebelling against authority and refusing to jump when told to or speak only when spoken to. I’m sure you see where this is going: the very characteristics that drive women toward sex work in the first place, the same characteristics which enable us to succeed in a profession without structure, bosses or trade unions, are the very traits that make us difficult to organize.

Scarlett, as someone working in the sector, how aware are you of the push for decriminalisation and do you feel you have ways and means to help the cause?

Michelle Lensink MLC was on our show back in episode 109, in which we first covered tonight’s topic, and she has crafted some background briefings to help people counter some of the misleading arguments against decriminalisation. Her work has helped me structure some of my questions tonight, so that we can cover as many facets as possible.

Tammy, if and when this Bill gets to parliament, will it be a conscience or “free” vote for all pollies? I have heard stories that at least one, prominent Labor member has backed away from supporting the bill due to intense pressure internally from conservative and “Catholic” members.

What the new Bill DOES do:

The Bill amends the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (CLCA) to remove references and offences relating to prostitution or being a brothel landlord

Keeps sections 66-68 of the Act, which provide penalties for sexual servitude and related offences, deceptive recruiting for commercial sexual services and use of children in commercial sexual services

Introduces a new penalty of providing a service to a child or minor (proposed section 68AA)

Amends the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SOA) to remove a range of offences, such as soliciting, living on the earnings of prostitution and those relating to brothels

Helps people leave sex work by changing the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and the Spent Convictions Act 2009 so that people who already have convictions are no longer blocked for getting jobs in different sectors like aged care or child care – at the moment they are rejected because police checks render them “off limits”.

Creates a framework for safe work conditions that must be adhered to through the Return to Work Act 2014

What the Bill doesn’t do – responses to certain claims

The new Bill does NOT change the Summary Offences Act at all. This means the law will still enable police to deal with public nuisance and disorder matters, so claims that sex workers will flood the streets are pure fantasy. In fact, sex workers and their clients will still seek out discretion.

Other offences that will STILL REMAIN under the Summary Offences Act, which should give a sense of security to opponents include but are not limited to the use or threat of unlawful violence against persons or property, disorderly or offensive conduct or language, supply of prohibited items e.g. drug paraphernalia, trespass, loitering, and indecent behaviour and gross indecency. They’ll all still be in force

The new Bill will NOT change planning laws, meaning that decriminalisation will not lead to brothels opening everywhere. All planning laws will remain in place and Local and State Governments will keep the power to determine what industries operate in what zones. Proponents argue that because brothel owners will be able to be up front with authorities, it will become easier for regulation to take place.

The new Bill will NOT lead to an increase in sex workers, based on evidence from New South Wales and New Zealand, where decriminalisation was enacted in 1995 and 2003 respectively.

The new BILL will not lead to more “pimping” because actual data shows the practice has been scarce in Australia since the early 1900s and proponents point out that it is CURRENT laws that make the services of a pimp more attractive, for a sense of protection.

The new Bill will NOT remove the right of police of entry and oversight because SAPol will still have many search powers to use, which only need “suspicion” that an offence has been committed for officers to be able to gain entry to a premises.

The new Bill will NOT lead to more strain on the worker’s compensation sector because the bill actually removes ambiguities from the Return to Work Act 2014.

The new Bill will NOT stop churches and Christian schools from legally discriminating against people wanting to train, and become ordained or become members of religious orders. Their right to discriminate remains their privilege. All the new Bill IS doing is naming that when it comes to applying for jobs, applying to be a member of an association, applying to be a student, seeking to be served in a shop, seeking access to accommodation that is available on the free market, or seeking support from a charitable service, that it will now be against the law to discriminate against people because they are sex workers or former sex workers.

The new Bill will NOT place oversight and regulatory burdens on councils. In fact, SAPol will continue operating with the right to enforce provisions of the Summary Offences Act and Councils will maintain their local planning approval powers.

The new Bill will NOT lead to sexually explicit advertising on billboards or radio and TV, unless it has managed to get through development approval for signage with all the usual approval and complaints processes, or the Advertising Standards Bureau for media advertising.

The new Bill will NOT lead to increases in “street prostitution” because it has not happened in other jurisdictions where identical changes were made (NSW and New Zealand), and the numbers show it is already an unpopular way of meeting clients because only 20 of the approximately 2,000 sex workers in SA are involved in “street walking”.

Other questions

Recently, I had a friend share an article pushing the Nordic Model of dealing with prostitution in which clients are deemed as aggressors (it is illegal to seek to buy sex) and sex workers are deemed as victims. Proponents claim it has changed their world and reduced human trafficking. However, only last year, The Independent published an article revealing that Sweden and Denmark have the highest rates of sexual harassment in Europe. Furthermore, doesn’t that model take a patronising view of women in sex work? And a harshly puritanical view of men seeking sexual intimacy?

It’s hard to think about this issue without spending a few moments reflecting on the late, Pippa O’Sullivan AKA Grace Bellevue. She was a dynamic person, a powerful writer, and an escort who led the way in using social media to tackle stigma in the field and build a web of safety. In a piece shared on the Maggie McNeil website, Pippa’s mum, Lynne O’Sullivan, wrote, “My daughter was the kindest, most thoughtful, most selfless and empathetic person you could come across; she crossed barriers to help the disabled in her sex work, worked in the assimilation process with new immigrants, and won real love with her honesty and openness.” Scarlet, do you encounter clients with disabilities for whom sex workers are their only means for sexual intimacy?

While talking of Grace Bellevue, in an interview with her in SA Weekend in 2017, she told of a her most frightening day on the job when she had  a narrow escape from a man who booked under a false name, then assaulted and tried to rape her. She later discovered he was on parole for repeatedly raping a woman at knifepoint for 48 hours, and had targeted other sex workers.
Grace said, “It’s one of the many pitfalls of working in an industry that’s criminalised. People think they can get away with (assault) because of your job, the fact that it’s criminalised and people know … girls possibly won’t report to police. So criminals budget on that, on our increased vulnerability. It’s frustrating.” How do you react to this?

In Pippa’s mum’s quote earlier, we referenced crossing barriers for people with disabilities. Something not talked about openly is how there are social workers right now who have to find ways to work within our bad laws to solicit sex workers for their clients, from a perspective of equal opportunity and social justice. Are either of you aware of this?

Scarlett, how do you maintain your self-esteem and mental health when there are quite frank review sites for sex workers? For example, on Scarlet Blue a reviewer, Sam, wrote, “I have just had a 2 hour Porn Star Experience journey with Scarlett, and she made it the best time I have ever spent with a woman in my life. It is hard to put into words everything we did and the great and unforgettable experience lived. She established a real instant connection after meeting her, and then got lost into another world… her world… Do not think twice if you want to feel what you have never ever felt. She is worth every cent and I would be seeing her again, and again, and again… thanks heaps babe! Cannot wait to see you again.” But then I found a comment by Nclaw on Punter Planet saying, “i contacted her a few weeks ago regarding rates (this was when she first started advertising and not much info was available). Told me $700 for GFE to which I laughed and said I’ll pass. She actually had the audacity to tell me to go with brothels if I can’t afford high class lol. I don’t know what market (or planet) she thinks she’s in or where she sits in it, but for me she doesn’t even have the looks or reputation to be charging anywhere near that sort of rate, least of all in Adelaide.”

There is a play being put on at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens at the end of the month, the world premiere of Holly Brindley’s, “Julie”. It explores female power and sexuality, in heterosexual relationships, particularly exploring what happens when a woman’s behaviour is deemed to be “promiscuous” (or not). Scarlett do you have any friends, or get comments from other women, that you are too promiscuous or “a whore”?

At the end of the day, there are two motivations for seeing sex workers that might get lost in the earnest debate. One is to fill a void of intimacy and the other is for fun. Scarlett, are these dominant in your clientele?

01:45:06 Is It News?

Nigel challenges the panel to pick the fake story from three stories from South Australia’s past.

Times November 1984
Decriminalising prostitution?
People are supporting a State government plan to decriminalise prostitution and make brothels legal, according to a Times street survey. The proposed plan would abolish all existing criminal provisions covering prostitution. Soliciting and loitering for the purpose of prostitution, allowing premises to be used for prostitution, making a living from prostitution, receiving money in a brothel and keeping a brothel would all be struck off the list of illegal activities. Lilian Ranger, of Victor Harbor, said she thought prostitution should be allowed, because it wouldn’t change Adelaide’s image. “I don’t think we would have anything like Kings Cross,” she said. “If people want to prostitute themselves they should be allowed to. I think it is a valid profession.” Peter Leary, of Adelaide, said decriminalising prostitution was not addressing the issue of why there are prostitutes. “It’s only going to help people if it’s easier to practice” he said. Instead of criminalising prostitution clients should be supported and helped. Michael Brown, of Payneham, also said he thought decriminalisation was a good idea. “It’s happening anyway so why not set some rules for it,” he said. “If there were laws to govern the profession it would be safer that  way.”

Times August 1986
Pokie legislation to be discussed
Prostitution and poker machine legislation about to be introduced to parliament will be discussed by Member for Alexandria, Mr Ted Chapman, at the Newland Memorial Church on Sunday. The South Coast parish of the Uniting Church’s Social Concerns Committee invited Mr Chapman to clarify the
legislation, to be discussed in the current parliamentary session. Legislation for the decriminalisation of prostitution and poker machines has been proposed. Members of all Christian churches and the public are invited to attend the meeting which will begin with afternoon tea at 2.30pm, and Mr Chapman will speak at 3pm.

The Canberra Times February 1980
SA Report backs decriminalising prostitution
A South Australian Parliamentary Select Committee has recommended that the South Australian Government decriminalise prostitution, but the Liberal Government will not take any action on the report. The report was tabled by the committee chairman and the South Australian Minister for Transport, Mr Wilson, when Parliament resumed in Adelaide yesterday. He told the House of Assembly that a private Members Bill would be introduced later this year to give effect to the recommendations. All Government MPs would be given a conscience vote. He did not say who would introduce the Bill. The four-member committee said. Prostitution should not be treated as a criminal activity and private sexual morality should not be the concern of the law. The report said
decriminalisation would correct some of the abuses associated with prostitution by removing the illegality which makes it flourish. It would make the industry subject to the normal laws governing a business and reduce the constant flouting of the law which currently prevails.

01:56:05 100 Weeks Ago
In 100 Weeks Ago, we revisit our evening spent with three romance authors, Bronwyn Stuart, Trish Morey, and Victoria Purman. They gave Steve and Nigel an education in the ways of the world and tonight we ponder whether more romance literacy might equip men for more enhanced relationships and less need to be “buying it in”?
02:00:55 Musical Pilgrimage

And our song this week is Let’s Hug Longer by Heaps Good Friends, selected by our musical curator, Todd Fischer.

This week’s featured artist for the Adelaide Show Podcast is Heaps Good Friends. If for some reason you haven’t heard them yet, their music sounds like a happy explosion of 80’s synth and catchy melodies that leave you energised and wanting to dance you pants off. 

Nick O’Connor and Emma Fradd started making waves as Heaps Good Friends in 2016 and they added drummer Dan Steinert at the start of this year. Emma’s self-described ‘average Joe’ lyrics are modest, quirky and easily relatable. Her direct tone really cuts through and gives their dance-pop sound a really cool, down to earth edge. 

Since taking out the Unearthed Competition to play Groovin The Moo Adelaide, they recently toured with The Jungle Giants and were also apart Music SA’s ‘Scouted’ which showcased South Australia’s best unsigned talent. They got some great airplay on Triple J early in the year with Let’s Hug Longer and their latest single Olympic Sneakers has again been added to Triple J rotation. In August it was also announced that they would be one of the recipients of the Robert Stigwood Fellowship for 2017 along with Electric Fields, Tom West, Lonelyspeck and The Winter Gypsy. This fellowship has already helped countless SA artists kickstart their careers and should see Heaps Good Friends continue their rapid trajectory over the next 12 months.

They are currently over in Brisbane at the Bigsound festival playing a showcase for ArtsSA and I can’t wait to see them at OH YES Festival alongside other acts like PNAU, Safia and Duke Dumont. That goes down at Wayville Showgrounds on Friday the 29th of September and I think there are small amount of tickets left so be quick if you want to jump on board that gig. 

For the wine lovers like Steve and Nigel, you can also catch them on December 9th at Serafino in McLaren Vale. This is a part of the Hot Dub Wine Machine event which features some other great acts like the Presets and Bad//Dreems.

02:13:23 Outtake
 You need to be kissing it … Only had asthma for 6 months … Not Glad Wrap … When were you born, Scarlett?

Here is this week’s preview video:

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free sfx from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal sfx, the wine pouring and cork pulling sfx, and the swooshes around Siri.

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