Decriminalisation of Sex Work Bill - Second Reading

I rise to continue my remarks that were briefly made in the last week of sitting, regarding the decriminalisation of sex work and the statutes amendment bill to decriminalise sex work that we are debating in this parliament. This is a reintroduction of the 2015 private members' bill that was brought to this place by the Hon. Michelle Lensink. It was passed in the Legislative Council in strong numbers, with 13 votes to 8, before lapsing at the end of last year in the House of Assembly, the other place, when the parliament was prorogued.

The bill also builds on the previous bill and the work of the Hon. Steph Key, the former member for Ashford, on the same subject. I acknowledge the many years of past work that have gone on here in the campaign for the decriminalisation of sex work. This is not the first attempt in this parliament at decriminalising sex work or effecting sex work reform. Those efforts date back to the 1980s, at least. Despite all these previous efforts, however, we are in a situation where South Australia has the most archaic and the oldest sex work laws in the country, and we need reform now.

There are approximately 2,000 sex workers currently operating in our state, many of whom work privately and are not employed by what is known as a brothel. This bill is based on the New Zealand model of decriminalisation of sex work and it seeks to achieve the following: safeguard the human rights of sex workers, protect sex workers from exploitation, promote the welfare and occupational safety and health of sex workers and create an environment conducive to public health. This bill will amend the Summary Offences Act 1953 and the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, which criminalises activities related to sex work in South Australia.

The new legislation, if passed by this parliament, will bar minors from conducting sex work and prohibit the provision of services to children.

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