How Sex Worker Activism Influenced the Decriminalisation of Sex Work in NSW, Australia.


In 2015, Amnesty International joined over 200 sex worker organisations in the call for nations to decriminalise sex work. Despite this, only two jurisdictions in the world, New Zealand and New South Wales (NSW; Australia), have adopted this approach. This article examines the role that sex worker activists played in sex work law reform in NSW through their representative organisation, the Australian Prostitutes Collective (APC). The APC produced and submitted groundbreaking research to the Select Committee of the NSW Legislative Assembly on Prostitution (1983–1986) whose recommendations laid the foundation for the decriminalisation of sex work in NSW. This article contributes to a developing history of the contribution of sex worker activism to law reform. It explores why it is so important that sex worker voices are included in the process of reform, and how meaningful consultation with sex workers helped shape and invoke a radical policy and legal transformation.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2019-04-30
Pages:50 to 67
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How to Cite
Aroney, E. and Crofts, P. (2019) “How Sex Worker Activism Influenced the Decriminalisation of Sex Work in NSW, Australia.”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 8(2), pp. 50-67. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v8i2.955.

Author Biographies

University of Technology Sydney

Eurydice Aroney is an award-winning radio journalist who has received national and international acclaim for her radio documentaries.  Her work has been broadcast in Canada, Europe, Ireland, Britain and the United States.  Her latest feature La Revolte de Prostituees (2015) was commissioned by Radio France and Radio Belgium. Eurydice is also a foot soldier in the campaign for sex work law reform and the decriminalisation of sex work.

University of Technology Sydney

Associate Professor Crofts is an international expert on criminal law, models of culpability and the legal regulation of the sex industry. Her research is cross-disciplinary, drawing upon a range of historical, philosophical, empirical and literary materials to enrich her analysis of the law. Her research is in the area of socio-legal studies coalescing around issues of justice in criminal law in practice and theory makes a distinctive contribution to critical evaluations of criminal legal models of culpability and enforcement. Many of her recommendations for the legal regulation of brothels have informed Parliamentary debates, influenced council planning policies and shaped proposed law reforms. Her analysis of criminal legal models of wickedness has contributed to a jurisprudence of blameworthiness.