NSWP congratulates Julie Bates on being awarded the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
In an interview Julie said: "It's a grand honour and I'm moved by it. Every day in the press sex workers are being demeaned and damned, here we are being honoured." The announcement comes a week after Catherine Healy of NZPC was made a dame in the New Zealand Honours list.
Julie helped to set up the Australian Prostitutes Collective, which later became the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), a community-based sex worker organisation focused on HIV and STI prevention and education, and peer-led health promotion for sex workers in New South Wales. Julie has been a champion for sex workers’ rights for 35 years, including supporting decriminalisation of sex work, which was introduced in 1995. She has also worked extensively on harm reduction issues, particularly during the HIV crisis, and helped to set up the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) in 1989.
Julie said “the next big fight is to win anti-discrimination protection, which we don’t have yet.” She also noted that other Australian states outside of NSW have a mix of legislation which affects sex workers, which she called a “mishmash of criminalisation, prohibition and licensing”. National organisation Scarlet Alliance works on law reform in other areas of Australia.
"I'm proud that I was part of the movement that brought in decriminalisation of sex workers in New South Wales," Julie said. "I hope this [award] normalises who we are and what we do in some capacity."