Why we shouldn’t be paying for NDIS recipients to see sex workers

“For a government to condone this, would be absolutely appalling… at what point has access to sex with another person ever been a human right?” – Charlotte, sex industry survivor. 

A generic images of an unidentifiable woman in a wheelchair
As was recently announced, an Australian woman with MS has become the first to be approved for NDIS funded sex therapy. 

As news rolled out of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s recent decision to approve sex therapy for NDIS clients, there were cheers of triumph from sex worker and disability advocates — many of whom called for the scheme to also include access to sex workers. 

Reading through their comments, I thought back to a recent article I read of a self-confessed ‘queer cripple,’ who, after years of being put down for his body, decided to begin using male escorts.

As I read through his account of the devastating emotional impact that came from years of being treated with disgust, labelled ‘retarded,’ and sexually passed on, I whole-heartedly empathised with why this person, like many others, would see sex workers as his only avenue for sexual gratification.

So, it may come as a surprise to admit that, despite this, I just can’t get on board with the AAT’s decision to approve sex therapy — and potentially, tax-payer funded sexual services. 

As someone who has spent much of the past decade writing and researching about the sex trade, as well as personally listening to stories from survivors, I could tell you countless stories of heartbreak and anguish from women harmed through both the legal and illegal sex trade.

More so, however, I could tell you of the many survivors who feel the NDIS sex-therapy scheme is akin to a giant slap in the face — particularly given the mental and physical harm they have experienced while providing the very services deemed a ‘human right’ for sex buyers.

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Dr Caroline Norma: “Many prostituted women leave the industry with mental health problems, and so prostitution creates disability rather than relieves it. [This scheme] is nonsensical …”

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