Sex does sell

Published 29 March 2012 05:02, Updated 06 April 2012 14:46

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The business of sex in NSW is in rude health.

A Sexpo event – a travelling “sexuality and adult lifestyle exhibition” held recently at Sydney’s Darling Harbour – attracted more than 50,000 attendees.

“Some of the exhibitors had their most profitable trading weekend in [the] last 10 years,” says Sexpo’s general manager, Rob Godwin. Many stalls at Sexpo sell sex toys; other desires were catered to at the event, with the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, where the event was held, experiencing a brisk trade in food and beverages, too, Godwin says.

His comments come at a time sex work in NSW has been described as the healthiest sex industry ever documented.

“Jurisdictions that try to ban or license sex work always lose track as most of the industry slides into the shadows,” says Basil Donovan from the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW. “In NSW, by contrast, health and community workers have comprehensive access to and surveillance of the sex industry.”

But the industry still faces roadblocks. Local councils have often turned down brothel development applications. That has sent some of the business underground, with brothels pretending to be massage parlours, with poor standards of health and safety.

“State-wide planning guidelines for brothels need to be implemented and councils need the expertise and support of an organisation like WorkCover to ensure that standards are met,” says Donovan.

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