A move to push brothels further out of town was voted down at Griffith City Council’s ordinary meeting on Tuesday.
Current council policy states a brothel can not be located, “within 200 metres walking distance” from any residential dwelling, or any place where children frequent – such as schools, churches or hospitals.
Cr Anne Napoli moved for this to be extended to 1000 metres. The motion was defeated, but Ms Napoli indicated she wanted to try again to extend the 200-metre limit.
Those opposing the move argued a 1000-metre restriction may make it impossible for any brothel to exist in Griffith.
Vickie, the owner of Vickie’s Vixens – the only legal brothel in Griffith – said such moves are “a threat” to her business, and shutting down brothels will fuel the growth of unsafe illegal sex work.
“When I worked in Wagga, there were Griffith men who would pay me more than $1000 to drive two hours to do outcalls here. This will always exist,”
Vickie, now a business owner ‘Madam’ and no longer a sex worker, said it’s difficult to determine whether her enterprise was within 1km of a residential area. She said being forced to move would cost her a fortune.
“I agree that brothels should not be located in residential areas, where children are around. But we are in an industrial area now and we’re not doing any harm. We’re not throwing it in the public’s face. We pay our dues ... and we can’t really advertise.”
“Would people rather us being in the one location, or sex workers roaming everywhere around town?”
Vickie said the existence of her brothel means very few prostitutes work privately, unlike in Wagga where she estimates there are 50 to 60.
“Wagga has been the chlamydia capital of Australia for six years in row,” she said.
While NSW law prohibits sex work in residential homes, there are women who do so illegally. Vickie said safety risks are high for both sex workers and clients.
“I know of cases of girls being beaten up and clients being robbed,” Vickie said.
“There is a lot of safeguards in place in legal brothels. The girls have a buzzer they can press if something goes wrong… every three months there are checks for sexually transmitted diseases.”
Vickie said all women working at Vickie’s Vixens are from out of town, and most of the clients are also outsiders travelling through or past Griffith (the nearest brothel is two hours away).
But she said there will always be local demand for paid sex.
“Brothels are more needed in today's society than ever… our business keeps women off the streets”.