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.
The PRESIDENT — Order! I will allow that to stand, but it is line ball in the sense that I think what Ms Patten was suggesting was in fact legislative change. In the adjournment debate one of the things a member is not able to do is to call for legislation. I will let that stand on the basis that the member is basically seeking perhaps more of a review of the existing laws and opportunities rather than directly calling for legislation, but members need to be aware that in the adjournment debate they cannot ask for legislation.
I can advise that some aspects of the regulatory scheme are currently being considered, as the Sex Work Regulations 2006 are in the process of being remade. Public consultation on draft proposed regulations closed on 4 March 2016. The consultation process involved writing to all licensed sex work service providers and to interested stakeholder groups.
A large number of submissions were received, and these have been published on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. I am currently considering these comments.
Two proposed changes I am considering are first, to remove the current restriction on advertising the race, colour or ethnic origin of sex workers; and second, to allow advertising on the Internet of images that depict more than the head and shoulders of a sex worker, subject to some explicit content restrictions.
While there are no plans to undertake a broader review of the sex work regulatory scheme at this time, if you would like to raise particular options for reform or to discuss this more generally, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters with you.