Last week another illegal suburban brothel was found in the nation’s capital. Before the last ACT election in 2008, the ACT government responded to a question regarding Canberra’s prostitution industry with the following: “There is no illegal sex industry in Canberra due to our well-regulated legal prostitution system”. However, in the last couple of years reports have repeatedly uncovered strong illegal elements in the Canberra industry.

There have been several news reports about the common usage of underage girls, suspicious fires, people found to be holding sex slaves, and the most tragic of all, the death of 17-year-old Janine Cameron who was discovered to have overdosed on drugs while working in a Fyshwick brothel. As for “well-regulated”, before the recent spate of checking first-aid kits at the brothels, there had not been an inspection done in half a decade.

The ACT Labor Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, recently gave in principle support for a review  to be held into the ACT prostitution industry which could begin as early as March next year.  This could be the first significant examination about whether a legalisation of prostitution is actually having the intended effect of diminishing the illegal sex-trade, as well as improving the health and safety of women in the industry. The ACT was the first Australian province to legalise brothels in 1992, and this inquiry could raise the question as to whether, like the Mayor of Amsterdam has stated, this has been a ‘failed experiment’.

This sad state of affairs provides an opportunity for Christians around the ACT, and indeed Australia, to make their voice heard on this issue of justice. We will at the ACL be following this issue closely and attempt to keep you informed about how you can act. Submissions will most likely be accepted early next year, as soon as the terms of reference are laid down, and we would encourage you to think about how you would like to respond to this extremely important issue.

As a first step for more information, Women’s Forum Australia are hosting a documentary about the global sex trade called “Call and Response” in Canberra which we would encourage our Canberra supporters to get to. The details are:

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 7:00 PM start time (Please arrive 15 minutes early to register)

Location: Hoyts Theatre, Westfield Woden

Cost: $20, includes movie ticket and raffle ticket

RSVP Essential: Email us at sara.hodgson@womensforumaustralia.org or call us at 0448 597 114 or

Register and pay online - click here.