The St Kilda Legal Service’s drug outreach lawyer works closely with sex workers who face legal issues, and with organisations dedicated to assisting these workers (such as RhED, a program of the Inner South Community Health and Sacred Heart Mission).
Our outreach lawyer is well placed to identify cases that involve human rights and sex work which would be suitable for strategic litigation. The outreach lawyer works with a number of transgender clients and is well aware of the issues involving transgender that are often overlooked in the wider human rights community. Human and legal rights transgressions are common issues for transgender people.
The outreach lawyer also provides a monthly duty lawyer service at the Melbourne Magistrates Court which has a sex worker list. The outreach lawyer represents defendants in this court, with health and community workers also attending.
“Street sex workers are more likely to attend court because afternoon court is more accessible to street sex workers who generally work until the early hours of the morning. And they will have an existing relationship with the Drug Outreach Lawyer, and greater confidence in being supported at court by a lawyer they already know.” (Magistrate Jelena Popovic, Murdoch University eLaw Journal Volume 1, 2006, 60-77.)
The St Kilda Legal Service aims to educate people about their legal rights. Some of the projects that we have worked on specifically aimed at educating sex workers are:
Shining Light on Workers Rights
The Shining a Light on Street Workers’ Rights legal information has been produced by St Kilda Legal Service with the RhED Program of Inner South Community Health. The production of this legal information was made possible by a grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.
To view fact sheets on the topics of: sexual assault, arrest rights, loitering, body searches and samples, and drugs and the law click here.
To view fact sheets on the topics of: exempt escorts, protecting yourself and mugs and the law; dealing with fines, talking to police, and debt collectors click here.
In total there are 10 factsheets on areas of law most relevant to street sex workers for publication and distribution in “Ugly Mugs” – a regular booklet distributed by RhED for street sex workers. 2000 banner pens with relevant, concise legal and referral information.
LIP (Legal Information for Professionals)
Legal Issues for Professionals (LIP) in the sex industry is a publication produced by St Kilda Legal Service in partnership with Inner South Community Health Service. The first edition of LIP was funded by the Victoria Law Foundation in 2001 and 2009.
The booklet contains information on a broad range of areas of law relating to sex work, including employment, taxation, family law, sexual harassment, victims of crime assistance, dealing with police and immigration.
The second edition of LIP was published in 2009. Click here (2.6MB) to view the 2009 edition of LIP.
The Outreach Lawyer from time to time meets with workers in an informal manner, for example at the Sacred Heart Women’s House, to sit and discuss legal rights and distribute information.