ASP News & Updates

Fiona Patten on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams

Fiona appeared as a recent guest on Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live with Josie Delap, the British home affairs correspondent for The Economist. They discuss Delap's article on sex work and technology in the current issue of the magazine. Listen here.

Fiona Philip

(Left) Illustration by Brett Lethbridge (Right) Illustration by Gavin Ryan

Spend Chaplaincy Budget on Sex and Relationship Education

Following yesterday’s announcement by the federal government that it will ask the states to administer their own chaplaincy budgets, the Australian Sex Party has challenged both the Victorian Liberal and Labor parties to channel the funds into sex and relationship education for students instead.

In 2010 The Victorian Treasury costed the Sex Party's sex education policy and found that for as little as $6million, a sex education curriculum could be provided to all schools for four years.

Sex Party President and Upper House candidate for the upcoming state election, Fiona Patten, said that the High Court had made a decision on chaplains which happened to oppose the personal religious beliefs of the Prime Minister. “Like a man possessed, he is now seeking out any avenue to impose his religious beliefs on the nation’s school children”, she said. “By any reasonable account this is just religious indoctrination disguised as pastoral care”.

Ms Patten said that school children would be much better served in their adult lives by learning how to have a safe and informed sex life and a better background in creating a loving relationship, than they would by learning about religion. “The High Court found that what the federal government was proposing was unconstitutional and affirmed that Australia does have some constitutional separation of church and state”, she said.

She called for mandatory, comprehensive sex education, focusing in early years on issues of safety, body image and self esteem through initiatives in later years aimed at reducing STIs and teen pregnancy. The Sex Party is pushing for comprehensive educational reforms aimed at promoting ethics and political education, replacing chaplains with qualified counselling and psychology professionals, requiring private schools which receive public funding to abide strictly by anti-discrimination legislation, and giving more power to schools to respond to the specific needs of their communities.

“The federal government is trying to give hundreds of millions of dollars to inculcate Christian religious values in schools and we're leaving behind notions of civics, ethics, teaching democratic values -- even things as basic as how the government works”.

Domestic Violence/Abortion claims an insult to all women

The Australian Sex Party says that all Victorians should be outraged by comments made yesterday by the Victorian state director of the Australian Christians, Vickie Janson, suggesting a link between domestic violence and abortion.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten said “These comments are absurd and insulting to all women. They accuse women who choose to terminate a pregnancy of being responsible for the assaults of other women” she said. “Those who perpetrate domestic violence have more in common with those who seek to control a woman’s body through legislation limiting access to abortion, than those who support a woman’s right to choose whether or not she completes a pregnancy”.

She said that Ms Janson’s comments came only a fortnight after Federal Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, linked abortion with breast cancer despite studies claiming a link being thoroughly discredited as junk science. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a major coordinated campaign by the religious right parties in Australia to ban abortion. It will run through both major parties as well and If the DLP, Rise Up Australia and the Australian Christians are going to back James Merlino with their preferences in the Victorian election, my advice to him would be, ‘careful who you get into bed with James’.

“This coalition of conservative fundamental Christians picked up about 0.1 percent of the Senate vote in Victoria. It is frightening that people that represent such a tiny part of our community can blackmail other MPs into supporting changes to Victoria’s abortion laws.”

She said the Sex Party would also be running candidates in many lower house and all upper house seats and had attracted a far bigger vote in the last Victorian Senate election than the three religious parties combined. This was especially so in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Ms. Patten said she was not surprised to hear the claims, as Victorian anti-abortion campaigners were simply following the religious right in the USA in making extreme claims regarding abortion. She said that at the coming Victorian election the Australian Sex Party would campaign vigorously  to protect a woman’s right to choice and to protect access to pregnancy termination services.

It’s time politicians had a rethink on waging the ‘unwinnable war’ on recreational drugs

IN a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”.

“The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.”

This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the tip of the drug iceberg”.

Federal and state police chiefs confirmed that every type of illicit drug is readily available in Australia. Indeed, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton admitted: “We’re never going to police our way out of the drug problem. In fact … we’re in the supply suppression business in policing.”

Ashton didn’t put a figure on how much of the black market he thought police were suppressing, but most experts agree it could be as little as 10 per cent. So is it worth spending billions each year on attempted prohibition, to stop 10 per cent of the illicit drug market? To me, that makes no sense at all.

Around the same time as Abbott and Ashton went public about the failure of prohibition to win the “war on drugs”, the New Zealand government bowed to media pressure and, shortly before the national elections, announced it would be suspending its groundbreaking regulatory scheme — the Psychoactive Substances Act.

This New Zealand initiative — passed by a vote of 119 to 1 on July 11 last year — was a world first because it took a scientific approach to determining which new psychoactive (mood-altering) substances were really dangerous and which ones met an “acceptably low risk of harm”.

The logic behind this approach was that with public health concerns allayed, but with the demand for new psychoactive substances still being satisfied, the black market and organised crime would shrink, or maybe even cease to exist.

According to Associate Minister of Health Todd McClay, the main aim was “to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market”.

The results of New Zealand’s 10-month experiment, now publicly available, need to be digested by every MP and bureaucrat who supports Australia’s prohibitionary stance.

From July last year to May this year, the number of outlets selling new psychoactive substances in New Zealand declined from an estimated 4000 unlicensed sellers to 150 licensed ones.

The latter sold 3.5 million packets of NPS with no deaths. While the NZ Health Ministry estimated that between 150 and 200 people may have developed some dependency that necessitated professional help, during the same time 3764 New Zealanders died from tobacco use. Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

There was an average of 11,000 people consuming new psychoactive substances every day in New Zealand. Nobody knew this before because the market was unregulated. At the same time as illicit drug offences declined by 22.7 per cent, the NZ government collected $42 million in taxes from the sale of these products in just 10 months.

Imagine that going into solutions to all drug problems in Australia every year.

By any measure, this method of regulating drugs was successful. So why did the New Zealand government shut it down as an election approached?

The answer lies in the fact, across the life of the interim regulatory scheme, there were 2843 negative stories in the NZ media about the scheme and the products. In the same period there were only 12 positive stories. The scheme was brought down through negative, often ignorant, media reports and not by any rational health considerations based on empirical data.

Illicit drug regulation has never been based on what is best for the citizenry. It’s almost always based on what seems best for the political future of the government of the day. Witness the recent US National Drug Control Strategy boast that “41 states have adopted laws to ban chemical substances related to synthetic cannabinoids”.

That may be so, but 23 states in the US now have legalised medical cannabis and two states have legalised recreational cannabis, while a further two are voting on it in November.

On July 27, a lead editorial in The New York Times called for national legalisation of cannabis. The newspaper linked such an action to the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933.

“It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”

At Las Vegas’s organised crime museum there is this telling quotation: “Prohibition was meant to outlaw drinking. Instead it made drinkers into outlaws”. Notwithstanding the devastating effects that alcohol has on our society, prohibition, with all its attendant evils, made problems connected with booze so much worse than when the sale of alcohol was regulated.

As president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Alex Wodak explains: “The prohibition of illicit drugs has failed abjectly by every measure except one — bad policy has so far been very successful politically.”

For me, there is one key question: why should our politicians continue to wage what Abbott rightly considers to be an ­unwinnable war?

Ross Fitzgerald’s memoir, ‘My Name is Ross: An Alcoholic’s Journey’ is available as an e-book.

The Weekend Australian, August 16-17, 2014, Inquirer p 24.

Richard Larter Dies

One of Australia’s great artists died in Canberra last Friday. In a fabulous career spanning nearly 70 years, Richard Larter and his wife Pat, were early members of the Sydney Push movement in the 1950s and his philosophies on life that were formulating then were still in evidence in his art work of later years. He painted nude and sexually engaging portraits of a wide range of women (mostly his wife and peep show workers), while raging against the many ills in society through his work. He hated censorship of all sorts but was most outraged by the banning and restricting of sexual and political material - which he experienced on more than one occasion himself.

There are plenty of links to Richard’s artistic genius and to the amazing volume of work that he left behind, so I won’t try and play the art critic here. What I do want to say is that he was a life member of the Eros Association and appreciated the work that a sex industry association does and the effects that it has on the freedoms of mainstream artists.

In the mid 1990s when Eros was still in its initial stages I remember getting a call from Richard saying that he had made a series of black and white art films using kitchen themes and appliances and that he was trying to donate them to the National Film and Sound Archive for posterity. This was only a few years after Pat, his wife, muse and artistic collaborator, had passed away and I think he could see that technology was moving very quickly and the video cassettes that they had recorded on, may soon be obsolete.

Some of the films, with exotic names like ‘Trixie’s Walking Fingers’, were sexually explicit and the poor old National Film and Sound Archive rejected them telling Richard they were pornographic. He was outraged and asked if Eros could help him to have them properly archived as works of art. Of course, under the Classification Act they easily qualified for an exemption from the normal rules of polite society because of their artistic and even historic nature. The Classification Act is harder to understand than an obscure Swahili dialect and even academics and arts bureaucrats find it hard to see where the line is drawn for the various classifications. I wrote a short submission on Richard’s behalf and forwarded the relevant parts of the Act to the NFSA and within a few days they felt confident enough to accept them. Richard was grateful for the help and started supporting our anti-censorship campaigns and became a good friend. He later pulled all his works from the NFSA and lodged some of them with the National Gallery of Australia (NGA).

On 18.9.01 he wrote to me with a copy of a submission that he had penned to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC and now the Australian Classification Board). The letter was hilarious but full of venom and hate for official government censorship.

Dear Fiona,
Herewith copy of my short submission to OFLC with longer CV attached so the ignorant whatnots at least know who I am. These government functionaries deserve about as much respect as we have for Adolph Eichmann and his ilk. They really enjoy the little bit of power they have. You should persuade someone like Bob Brown to introduce a Bill cancelling their pensions because of their anti-humanistic activities. Yhe Bill of course would never get passed but at least they would know how much we all loathe them. I also enclose copies of letters I got from Dave Rugendyke (a conservative ACT politician) and Dr Kennedy(NGA head) regarding the proposed Adult Entertainment Bill – another fiasco. Still we must keep on trying.

His submission would have been the elephant in the room when the Attorney General’s advisors sat down to go through them. As with most elephants in most rooms, his comments were overlooked – mostly in favour of the local priest or the local women’s auxiliary group. And yet this submission stands as one of the great statements on censorship by an Australian artist. He saw the nub of the problem and attacked it without worrying about the nuances in the debate. *(Submission attached).

Richard was never shy about coming forward on political matters and he hated politicians who could only see life through an economic framework. His writings about the neo conservatives of his day were driven by the same passion that inspired his incredible art. In a letter dated 9.10.08 he wanted me to know where all his films had finally been lodged and where people could read his criticisms of the government censorship on his work*.

The Larter Manifesto ran thus:

“The current recession is caused by the same ultra right wing Christian forces which brought Christian fascist economics forward with Milton Friedman - corporatist tactics using politicians of the types like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They made greed seem natural along with the diminution of honesty and probity that the new global corporatist capitalism sponsors. This has led to dishonest manipulation of the stock market so that ‘blue chip’ has become a meaningless term and blatant rorting and gambling has become the norm. Notwithstanding the lessons of history (South Sea Bubble and 1929 Depression) things have gone from bad to worse under the Bush family and the Blair administrations. Yet we stupidly listen to economists who believe in the Christian fable.

My films will never be seen because of the Christian infection of all political parties in Australia. I call for all religions to lose their fiscal immunity from having to pay taxes, rates and to receive grants for education – so that the taxpayer no longer subsidises religion.

Religions have behaved so badly with them sponsoring global corporatist capitalism but also by censorship and trying to force their ideas about abortion and condoms onto taxpayers. So we don’t ban them - just make them fund their own silly ideas. Back to where we were under Menzies. The Pit Bull terrier from Alaska has really given the game away!

As for the lame dog Rudd – I just ask how many lifetimes have I got to have before I can sell or even just show a film of mine? We must wake up!”

Richard supported the anti-censorship cause through statements to the media, personal appearances, letter-writing and donations of whatever he thought meaningful and appropriate.

In a letter to me on 12.6.2000 recording one such donation to our collection, he says “I do this to register my protest against the Liberal Party and their attitude to censorship as exemplified by the upstart liar, John Winston Howard and his useless Attorney General, the nonentity Williams, and his bunch of ignoramuses at the OFLC.“ Richard rarely minced his words.

He will be sadly missed but I would like to suggest to all Sex Party members that they take some time to look at his work and understand how much of it interacts with and comments on the world of erotica and censorship that Australia’s adult industry is based on.

Fiona Patten

Letter to Will Hodgman MP

Dear Premier,

There is a strong push for drug law reform around cannabis use in Australia and Tasmania in particular. You have probably seen several of the high profile stories that have aired recently outlining the need for reform around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The currently available cannabis medications are largely ineffective, expensive, difficult to obtain and not available for many conditions. Research into the medical use of cannabis is stifled by prohibitive legislation, despite many promising studies overseas and some apparently miraculous anecdotes, such as those relating to children who suffer from epileptic fits.

Polls asking Tasmanians if they support legalisation of medicinal cannabis are consistently showing a high number of supporters for law reform. During Hobart's Sexpo, our volunteers spoke to Tasmanians about cannabis law reform more broadly and asked people to sign a card calling for urgent drug law reform around cannabis. We have included a sample of these signed cards for your perusal.

Tasmania's laws around cannabis are in urgent need of reform so that patients can access medication they desperately need. It will also allow for more research to be done, making treatments more effective in the future.

If there is an option to ease a sick person's pain or treat their illness, don't you think that a legal option ought to be available rather than risking a punishable offence?

Although the medical issue is clearly important, it is also clear that criminalising the use of recreational cannabis is having a negative effect on the one in ten Tasmanians who consume cannabis. The harms associated with cannabis are not mitigated through prohibiting the plant and spending money on policing this law.

The Tasmanian health department estimates that there are about 50,000 current cannabis consumers in Tasmania. Criminals whose revenue goes untaxed and who have continued to operate for decades despite police efforts are meeting this substantial market demand. Those 50,000 Tasmanians could be purchasing a product that creates jobs in the state, is taxed in order to fund harm reduction, health and education programs.

Prohibition does not stop people from taking cannabis nor does it help those few who do have health problems due to cannabis. It does lead to the incarceration of countless Tasmanians, ruining their lives more than smoking a joint could ever do.

Would you reconsider the evidence around cannabis regulation, in particular for medicinal purposes but also for legal, recreational purposes?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Patten
President & Founder

Sex Party calls for action not promises on HIV and the law

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian Health Minister to reconsider his announcement and repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act that makes it an offence to intentionally cause a serious disease (with HIV exclusively defined as a serious disease).

Party president Fiona Patten said that the section of the Act in question was introduced exclusively to address a fear of HIV infection 21 years ago. “To remove the stigma of this discriminatory and ineffective regulation it must be removed in its entirety”, she said. “UN AIDS has stated that criminalisation of HIV does not lead to positive outcomes for the community and adversely affects people living with and without HIV.

"In Victoria we know that using Criminal law as a public health tool doesn't work. In part it is the reason we changed our Prostitution Laws in Victoria. It is the reason that we did not outlaw syringes here but provided needle exchanges instead. It is why Australia is recognised as a world leader in fighting HIV”.

The Sex Party is also concerned that amendments may lead to criminalising more people who have other "serious" diseases such as Hepatitis C, HPV and Clamydia, all of which can lead to terminal illnesses.

Ms Patten said the minister had placed no timetable on changing the law.

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian parliament to introduce legislation to repeal Section 19a of the Crimes Act by the end of the week.

“Wouldn't it be a brilliant finish to the conference if the host, Victoria, actually acted on the conference's recommendations instead of making promises to”?

International AIDS Conference

Melbourne is hosting the International AIDS 2014 Conference, opening next week. Already there are a number of pre-conferences some of our members are attending including the Sex Worker pre-conference, MSM and Transgender Global Forum (MSM = men who have sex with men), HIV Criminalisation pre-conference and a whole host of associated cultural events. We will be posting to the Sex Party Facebook page articles, reviews, reports and reflections on some of the conference highlights, exhibition openings, dance performances and more. Here are some events that may be of interest:

The Female Agenda

The Female Agenda: Global Perspectives on Feminine Identities, Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health is a one-off panel discussion that brings together some of the best minds from the 20th International AIDS Conference. Hosted and chaired by Leslie Cannold (Melbourne author, academic ethicist, columnist, activist and Australian public intellectual), this session will explore a wealth of information and insight on sexual health, reproductive rights, identity and living with HIV.

The panel will represent an array of opinions, ideas and passions. Panelist Che Gossett is a trans femme writer and activist who has contributed to publications such as Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Scholar and Feminist Online and Queer Necropolitics.

Jessica Whitbread is an activist, author and artist who promotes sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness through tea parties and her No Pants, No Problem parties.

Completing the panel is the activist Teresia Otieno, currently the ICW Global Chair. Teresia is currently focused on issues around coerced and forced sterilisation of women living with HIV in Kenya.

When: Tuesday 22 July 2014 7pm -9pm
Where: Library at the Docks, Docklands
Tickets: Free

Get tickets

Working Together, Stronger Together - Mobilisation March

The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and Victorian Trades Hall Council are facilitating the Working Together, Stronger Together - AIDS 2014 Mobilisation March on Tuesday 22 July 2014. The Mobilisation March has been a traditional part of the International AIDS Conference, tracing its origins back to the political marches at the 1987 International AIDS Conference. Since then, the March has been used as a vehicle for airing both political and cultural issues faced by the global HIV/AIDS community. The March has a history of focussing on a diverse range of issues impacting on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Issues likely to be raised in this March include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to Affordable Treatment
  • Fighting HIV Stigma and Discrimination
  • Freedom of Movement for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)
  • Eliminating the Criminalisation of HIV
  • Access to Effective Prevention Options
  • GLBTI Rights
  • Government Inaction on Preventing the Spread of HIV

At 3:30PM, the March will assemble at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) - the location of the 20th International AIDS Conference.

Commencing at the front of the MCEC, the March will proceed down Flinders Street and arrive at Federation Square. The March will be largely comprised of international activists and conference delegates joined by local activists and community groups to raise awareness of issues faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV) across the globe as well as at-risk communities.

The rally will open with speeches from local and international activists in addition to Victorian Trades Hall Council’s Luke Hilakari and VAC CEO Simon Ruth. The March concludes at Federation Square, where it is followed by the AIDS 2014 Candlelight Vigil from 6PM. All Mobilisation March attendees are encouraged to stay and attend the Vigil.

For enquiries relating to this event, please contact:

Ilan Werbeloff Events Coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


War On The Salvos!

The Salvation Army have quietly been chipping away at social reforms over the years and although they appear to do good charitable work in the community, today’s media release by Aletha Blayse puts another view forward on this. As John Howard’s advisor on illicit drug regulation the Salvos’ Major Brian Watters put the case for drug law reform back a hundred years. Tell the Salvos to stop interfering in Australia’s moral compass and get on with feeding the poor. Join the demonstration in Sydney.

White Shield Appeal Campaign

Protest Against Salvation Army
Sydney, 17th-31st July, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (Salvation Army Headquarters)

The White Shield Appeal campaign would like to state its support for a protest this week by prominent homelessness rights activist and social justice campaigner, Stephanie Calabornes, against the Salvation Army.

Ms Calabornes will be mounting a 2-week protest against the Salvation Army in Sydney. She will be maintaining a vigil night and day (4pm 17th July to 4pm 31st July, 2014) outside Sydney Salvation Army headquarters, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, protesting against:

  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of homeless people.
  • How the Salvation Army allowed confessed child sex abuser Colin Haggar to work at women’s and children’s refuge, Samaritan House Shelter.

  • The Salvation Army’s treatment of victims of its children’s homes and their families.

  • The Salvation Army’s delivery of services to homeless youth.

Homelessness Services:

According to Ms Calabornes, “The Salvation Army is using homeless people for free labour instead of directing them to meaningful employment via the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus Service.” She says this practice is appalling, and that the public should know about it.

Ms Calabornes also alleges that, “The Salvation Army is imposing conditions on some homeless people who are offered accommodation in Salvation Army shelters that they attend Salvation Army religious services.” Ms Calabornes says, “This is disgusting. The Salvation Army is imposing its religious beliefs upon people as a condition of provision of basic services. All people, including homeless people, have the right to freedom of religious expression, which includes not attending Salvation Army church services.”

Colin Haggar:

Ms Calabornes also wants to remind the public about the decision of the Salvation Army to allow confessed child sex abuser, Colin Haggar, to work at the Samaritan House Shelter, a refuge for women and children. Ms Calabornes says, “What confidence can the public have in the Salvation Army to care for vulnerable young people if it allowed a person like Colin Haggar to be placed in this position?” Ms Calabornes says she would like to see all governments review current funding to the Salvation Army following a thorough investigation of all Salvation Army refuge centres.

Children’s Homes’ Victims & Families:

Ms Calabornes is also concerned about the Salvation Army’s treatment of victims of Salvation Army children’s homes and their families. She says, “The Salvation Army’s dealings with victims of its homes has been callous.” She says she would like to see all levels of government force the Salvation Army to deliver true restorative justice to victims and families and says, “The Salvation Army is misleading the public that it is delivering justice to its victims; it is not.” Ms Calabornes also wants the Salvation Army to tell the Australian public how many Salvation Army children’s homes victims are currently homeless.

Homeless Youth:

Ms Calabornes also alleges that the Salvation Army is, “Not doing the job it claims to do in provision of services to homeless youth.” According to Ms Calabornes, “I have repeatedly told the Salvation Army that it needs to send its Oasis homeless youth vans to specific locations in order to reach homeless youth. It has not done so, leaving many young people without the support the Salvation Army claims to offer.”

The White Shield Appeal campaign hopes anyone with an interest in these important issues will come along and support Ms Calabornes in her protest at 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.


Protester: Ms Stephanie Calabornes (Phone 0456096293; Email   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Twitter @outandabout12)

White Shield Appeal campaign: (Ms Aletha Blayse, Phone 0457151278; Email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Twitter @alethab)


Fiona Patten on Late Night Live with Phillip Adams

Fiona Philip

(Left) Illustration by Brett Lethbridge (Right) Illustration by Gavin Ryan

Fiona appeared as a recent guest on Phillip Adams’ Late Night Live with Josie Delap, the British home affairs correspondent for The Economist. They discuss Delap's article on sex work and technology in the current issue of the magazine. Listen here.

Spend Chaplaincy Budget on Sex and Relationship Education

chaplaincy 2

Following yesterday’s announcement by the federal government that it will ask the states to administer their own chaplaincy budgets, the Australian Sex Party has challenged both the Victorian Liberal and Labor parties to channel the funds into sex and relationship education for students instead.

Read more