Ambivalent Regulation: The Sexual Services Industries in NSW and Victoria — Sex Work as Work, or as Special Category?
Penny Crofts, JaneMaree Maher, Sharon Pickering and Jason Prior
Despite continuing contests in Australian states over the validity of sex work as work, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) have been part of a global trend for states to decriminalise and/or legalise the sex industry. This article argues that although Victoria and NSW are united by their ambivalence toward the legal validity of sex work as work for women, this ambivalence is expressed and organised in different ways in each state, with consequent differences in regulatory schemas, practices of enforcement and outcomes for workers and communities. In particular, this article focuses on the regulation of sex services premises as a key indicator of how the sex industry is regarded and embedded within broader business, social and regulatory contexts. The article examines some specific regulations that affect women’s status as sex workers in each state. It concludes by arguing that the failure to fully recognise sex work as work impacts most sharply on the safety and inclusion of workers: those whom the legislative schemas of both states purportedly seek to protect.