Ms Patten (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. I am calling on the minister to investigate ways to modernise our approach to sex work in Victoria.
On Sunday I had the great pleasure of attending the 10th birthday of Madame Brussels. Obviously Madame Brussels would have been a lot older than 10, but I was attending the establishment called Madame Brussels. As many members would know, the real name of Madame Brussels was Caroline Hodgson. She was a successful Melbourne businesswoman, so successful that she had the first telephone outside Parliament for her establishment so that the parliamentarians could call her establishment when needed. She had many ties to Parliament. Of course we are all aware of the rumours about the parliamentary mace being lost in 1892. No-one knows where it went, but Ms Hodgson may have had something to do with it. In that time the sex industry offered women an opportunity to achieve financial and social independence. In 1907, sadly, because of the sex worker laws, sex work and Madame Brussels were put out of business.
Sadly, things have not changed. Stigma and discrimination around sex work in Victoria still exist, despite the fact that in 1986, after a great inquiry by Professor Marcia Neave, we saw some of the first sex worker laws in the world. Victoria boasts some of the oldest sex worker laws in the world. In 1986 they were very modern and they were something that other countries and other states looked to. But now they are 30 to 40 years old and it is time for a renewal. The discrimination and stigma that sex workers still face in Victoria are significant. We have laws that insist that managers have a great deal of training and a great deal of licensing, but we do not allow ourselves to advertise for sex workers.
I am calling on the minister to look at ways that we could modernise sex worker regulation in Victoria and bring it into line with the 21st century, bring it into line with where the rest of the world has added onto what Victoria once was in being a world first and a leader in sex worker reform legislation. It is time for us to do that again and to review and renew our legislation and renew our regulations. I call on the minister to look at ways of enabling that to happen.