A GROUP of local sex workers held a protest at a Marrickville Council meeting last Tuesday.
About 12 people, most from the Sex Workers' Rights Action Coalition, protested in front of the council building and in the chambers against the council's decision to seek a cap on the number of brothels in the municipality.
Coalition spokeswoman Joanne said there were planning guidelines in place to outline how the sex industry, local businesses and residents could co-exist.
``It is just going to make Marrickville Council's life tougher because they are going to have more non-compliant premises,'' she said. ``It is better for sex workers if Marrickville Council has the guts to take some leadership and include us in the community.''
She said discriminatory policies could lead to increased stigmatisation of sex workers.
``It is basically dividing the community as if sex workers weren't part,'' she said. ``We are workers, we are residents and we live in the area.''
The coalition were not permitted to speak in the meeting as there was no relevant item on the agenda. Instead they stood up in the gallery and interrupted proceedings to air their concerns.
They unfurled a banner but it was ripped from their hands by a security guard.
Mayor Morris Hanna, who initiated the request to cap brothel numbers, said the demonstration was not necessary. ``If they come to the office and make an appointment I am more than happy to talk to them.
Premier Morris Iemma announced recently that he would put more resources into identifying illegal premises and empower local courts to cut off their electricity, gas and water.
Sex workers target council
Inner West Courier
Tue 13 Mar, 2007
Political "scapegoating" and the ineptitude of the Department of Planning are to blame for noncompliant brothels, the Sex Worker Rights Action Coalition has claimed.
The sex workers' lobby group took its message to Marrickville Council last week to protest against the council's move to cap the number of brothels in the area.
The lobby group members had the support of a group of Marrickville residents who joined them outside the council chambers in Petersham to protest against the "anti-sex work policies" of Marrickville Council.
Eurydice Aroney has been a Marrickville resident for 13 years and has never had an issue with the sex industry.
She said the money and time spent on the issue by the council was a waste of ratepayers' money.
"We have a safe sex industry in Australia and I don't want it to go underground," Ms Aroney said.
Joanne, a sex worker and spokeswoman for the Sex Worker Rights Action Coalition said the council was not following the Sex Services Premises Planning Guidelines 2004.
"We want to be able to work without fear of closure or private investigation, we have our rights also," she said.
She said in the lead up to the State election, Marrickville Council was using opposition to brothels as a political stunt.