Sex work, disability, and the NDIS – again…

13 years ago a young woman with cerebral palsy contacted me. She had never had sex before and wanted to try it with me because she felt that seeing a sex worker would be safe and give her control over the encounter.

She has continued to see me every month since then and is to this day my longest standing client. Being able to see me regularly is an important part of her well being and enjoyment of life. We literally have more sex than many married couples!

She is in the very lucky position of being able to afford to see a sex worker regularly. Many if not most people with a disability are not. That’s where the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been very helpful for some people with disabilities. It has given them the financial ability to pay for sex that they otherwise would be unable to have.

And now we have this from NDIS minister Bill Shorten:

“Sex work will be banned from being funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme under NDIS Minister Bill Shorten’s planned reforms, the minister has confirmed.

The decision to exclude sex work has prompted deep concern from the disability sector, who warn it will rob participants of free choice, and could be a sign of a broader tightening on what participants can access.

On Sunday, Mr Shorten told Sky News he intended to change the rules.

“We will rule it out, yeah, we will rule it out. It’s just not a sustainable proposition, it doesn’t pass the test, does it,” Mr Shorten said.

“The reality is I’ve got one or two examples I’m aware of that it’s ever happened, ever. So it’s not what’s happening in most of the scheme.”

Specialised sex services have been available through the NDIS since 2020 when the federal court ruled in a legal challenge that the National Disability Insurance Agency should approve those services where deemed reasonable and necessary.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-07-07/sex-worker-ndis-funding-ban/104068652

I expect this sort of unsympathetic nickle-and-diming of government spending from the LNP, but hearing this from a Labor minister is extremely depressing. Shorten’s quote to Sky News doesn’t even make any sense…

“We will rule it out, yeah, we will rule it out. It’s just not a sustainable proposition, it doesn’t pass the test, does it,” Mr Shorten said.

“The reality is I’ve got one or two examples I’m aware of that it’s ever happened, ever. So it’s not what’s happening in most of the scheme.”

If there are really only “one or two examples” of people using NDIS funds to access sex work services then it’s hardly a burden on society. But he also said “It’s just not a sustainable proposition”.

An “unstainable proposition” how Mr Shorten? Financially? You just said that almost no-one uses it, so that doesn’t make sense.

Did he mean it’s a “[morally] unsustainable proposition”? If so does that mean that the federal Labor government is planning to ban all sex work? Or is it just “morally unsustainable” for people with a disability to be enabled to experience sex – like every able bodied person in the community (which is literally the purpose of the NDIS – to enable people with disabilities to be able to live their lives as normally as possible).

I just don’t understand where this coming from. I absolutely expect these sorts of prudish, mean spirited decisions from an LNP government, but Labor knows better and should do better.

It’s a sad day. People with disabilities deserve sex too.

John

4 thoughts on “Sex work, disability, and the NDIS – again…

  1. This is sad, it’s terrible that people with disabilities so often have to fight for rights that others take for granted. Thank you for raising awareness of issues like this.

    • Hi Sam, thank you for your comment. Yes it’s appallingly unfair that politicians are taking it upon themselves to tell people with disabilities that being able to have sex is unimportant and shouldn’t be supported. I do what I can with me limited platform, but hopefully it may help.

  2. Hi John, thanks for sharing this info. I am so deeply saddened and totally guttered to read this. Another backwards step from our government. The disabled in our community do it hard enough. This is a heartbreaking outcome. I’d love to see Shorten go without any sex, touch and connections in his life (oh and that’s on top of not having the capacity to work a high paying job).

    • Thank you Tina. It really is terrible and yes, anyone making a decision like this would do well to “walk a mile in the shoes” of the people they are deciding for.

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