The ‘Nordic Model’, prostitution policy, and women’s rights in Australia

Stream: Panel 4 - Gender Politics: Gender Based Violence 1
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Prostitution policy in Australia is determined at the state and territory level, consequently, there are various approaches taken across the country. Some states have introduced systems of legalisation or decriminalisation, while other states have criminalisation or de facto criminalisation, often based on long out-dated laws. Problems with each of these existing approaches have led to a number of reviews and inquiries regarding prostitution policy in different Australian states and territories since 2010. During this same time period, a relatively new form of prostitution policy has been gaining traction internationally. Originating in Sweden, and increasingly known as the ‘Nordic Model’, this legislative approach is a type of asymmetric decriminalisation: all prostituted persons are decriminalised, but the purchase of sex is made illegal. Central elements of this model include a recognition of prostitution as a serious site of violence against women and an understanding that the existence of systems of prostitution hampers efforts to achieve gender equality. Many of the recent prostitution reviews in Australia mention the Nordic Model, but have most often dismissed it as an unfeasible policy option. This paper will provide a theoretical, thematic analysis of the understandings of the Nordic Model provided in these reviews. In particular, the analysis will consider if and how the elements of the Nordic Model relating to women’s rights, violence against women, and gender equality, are dealt with in the Australian context.


Meagan Tyler (Presenter), RMIT University
Dr Meagan Tyler is a Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow, based in the Centre for People, Organisations and Work, at RMIT University.