SEXHUM Australia

In Australia, SEXHUM concentrated on the experiences of migrant sex workers under the first Decriminalisation model in NSW (since 1995) and under the 1994 licensing Sex Work Act in Victoria. Trafficking has been gradually decreased in the last 10 years and composes a stark minority of the experiences of sex workers. In both NSW and Victoria, exploitation by bosses and managers in the form of blackmailing and lack of support with aggressive clients still takes place. Mistrust in the police by sex workers is ripe in both states, but more so in Victoria. In NSW, sex workers benefit from a much larger variety of work options and are therefore less tied to abusive or exploitative work places. 

All migrant sex workers with a valid work visa (including temporary visa holders) can legally work in the decriminalised sex industry of NSW. In Victoria, legal (licensed) work options are much less, which increases the contractual power of owners and operators and fosters their engagement in blackmailing workers to get them to follow their rules, as they have much less options to work legally elsewhere. 

Migrant sex workers (including those with permanent residence) are particularly vulnerable as they risk deportation if working outside the few licensed options. In both NSW and Victoria, majority Asian massage parlours offering extra sexual services but not holding council approval (NSW) or a license (Victoria) are targeted by councils, private investigators, law enforcement and immigration raids and controls in the name of finding victims of trafficking and exploitation, but ultimately resulting in issuing fines and even deportation notices and detention for Asian migrant sex workers. 

Again, in Victoria sex workers caught in these raids risk more repressive consequences than in NSW, because they are found involved in criminal conduct. In Victoria, these raids are backed and called for by sexual humanitarian neo-abolitionist organisations and the association of owner and operators. In NSW, peer sex worker organisations are funded to provide an array of essential support to (migrant) sex workers, while in Victoria neo-abolitionist organisations who campaign for the Nordic Model and promote raids are funded and peer only organisations are not. 

During the current COVID-19 crisis, sex workers who are citizens or permanent residents are entitled and have access to government benefits, though some reported great difficulties and delays in receiving the payments. No migrant on any temporary visa has had any access to government benefits. 

Migrant communities are helping by providing food and funding to co-nationals and the national sex worker peer organisation, Scarlet Alliance, organised a fund for sex workers ineligible for government financial support.  As of July 2020, Victoria saw the majority of COVID-19 related fines, 5 fines were reported in NSW, most against Asian erotic massage parlors.