Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Social AffairsDisability

‘It is time for the NDIS to catch up’: Disability advocates call to fund access to sex work


12 July 2019 at 4:24 pm
Luke Michael
Advocacy groups are calling for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to offer funding for sex work services after a person with a disability won the right to have a sex therapist paid for by the scheme.


Luke Michael | 12 July 2019 at 4:24 pm


4 Comments


 Print
‘It is time for the NDIS to catch up’: Disability advocates call to fund access to sex work
12 July 2019 at 4:24 pm

Advocacy groups are calling for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to offer funding for sex work services after a person with a disability won the right to have a sex therapist paid for by the scheme.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal this week ruled in favour of a woman with multiple sclerosis who applied for sex therapy funding in her NDIS plan, but was refused by the National Disability Insurance Agency.

The Morrison government has already indicated the NDIA will appeal the ruling, which said the woman should receive $10,000 a year to fund her treatment.

AAT deputy president Brian Rayment rebuked the NDIA’s defence that sex therapy was not a “reasonable and necessary support” the NDIS was intended to cover.

“The only help she can usefully have to reach sexual release, to the extent to which she can, is by means of the qualified and trained sexual therapist whose services she seeks,” Rayment said.

“She does not have a need likely to be capable of being met by a partner and she has no partner. The financial sustainability of the scheme is not threatened by funding the support which she seeks.”

Disability groups welcomed the decision, but were disappointed Rayment did not use his ruling to recommend the NDIS fund sex workers.

He said a distinction should be made between a sex worker and the specially trained sex therapist the woman sought.

“This case does not, in my opinion, throw up for decision the question whether the services of a sex worker ought… to be funded for persons with a disability if their needs require it,” he said.

Matthew Bowden, co-CEO of People with Disability Australia, said he hoped this case would provide the NDIA with a framework to develop much needed policy in this area.

He said people should not be denied access to sex on the basis of their disability.

“The previous state-based disability support system had long supported people with disability to have funded access to sex work services – now it is time for the NDIS to catch up with this long-standing precedent,” Bowden said.

“We are pleased that the AAT has upheld the rights of people with disability to sexual expression, which would enable ‘reasonable and necessary’ support through NDIS funding to engage the services of a sex worker to achieve therapeutic outcomes.”

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – which underpins the NDIS – states that governments have an obligation to ensure that people with disability can enjoy life to the same extent as their non-disabled peers.

Saul Isbister, president of sex worker advocacy group Touching Base, said every adult, regardless of disability, has a human right to seek consensual sexual expression. 

He noted sex therapists do not provide sex work services, but sex workers often offer therapeutic outcomes for their clients through their services.

“Non-disabled people can masturbate, or find sexual partners, but for some people with disability, they don’t have the same opportunities without access to sex work services,” Isbister said.

“For too long the issue of disability and sexuality has been a taboo topic that was kept shrouded in a veil of secrecy or denial.”

But NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the government remained of the view that the scheme does not cover sexual services, sexual therapy or sex workers in a participant’s plan.

He said the NDIA intended to appeal the decision.

“These services are not in line with community expectations of what are reasonable and necessary supports,” Robert said.  


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

2 comments

  • Avatar pollyanna says:

    Sure, but that seems to be a common thing the AAT says in defense of their decisions, “it’s not going to impact the sustainability of the scheme”. Do they consider those still trying to get onto the scheme to get their personal care needs met? Do they consider other supports that are more crucial to day-to-day functioning that people find hard to obtain? Do they consider the pool of funds the participant already has access to and that the taxpayer needs to foot the bill for? I bet it amounts to well over 100k a year.

  • Avatar Jenny London says:

    Minister Stuart Robert sounds like a barrel of fun!!
    Does he have any idea what he is talking about?
    Sure miss A.D.H.C. Who’d have thought! Their staff just “got it”!.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×

We need your help.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Pro Bono Australia has seen a devastating fall in advertising and less people posting on our job board, which is how we fund our free news service. You can show us that you value the work we do by making a contribution.

 Make a contribution 

You have Successfully Subscribed!