109 Zahra SW

"I can personally attest to her thorough and nuanced understanding of the field of gender and cultural studies, including sexuality studies, queer theory, LGBTI history, and law, specifically as it pertains to marginalized communities, including people living with HIV and sex workers. Both her academic work and her personal activism are testaments to her commitment to LGBTI communities, the promotion of safe sex practices, and   advocating for legal reforms in the fields of sexuality, health, and education."

– Dr Viv McGregor, Community Engagement Coordinator, Lesbian & Same Sex Attracted Women’s Sexual Health Project, ACON

I currently work as the Policy Advisor for leading health promotion organisation ACON, formerly the AIDS council of NSW, specialising in HIV and LGBTI health. In this role I provide policy advice, prepare submissions on issues facing our communities, including homelessness, mental health, violence and discrimination. 

Between 2011-2015 I was the Policy Officer for Australia’s national peak sex work body Scarlet Alliance, advocating on sex industry legislation, human rights, workplace health and safety, anti-discrimination protections, HIV prevention and health promotion. In this role I conduct consultation and develop submissions on state and federal law reform, provide briefing papers for ministerial advisory mechanisms and write reports for United Nations bodies monitoring Australia’s human rights obligations.

Internationally, this has included providing evidence for global consultations such as the UNAIDS Secretariat consultation on Funding for HIV and Human Rights, NSWP consultation on sex work, human rights and the law, NSWP consultation on PrEP and Early Treatment, Red Umbrella Fund consultation on Funding for Sex Worker Health and Rights, and the Canadian Government consultation on best practice sex work laws.

Federally, this has included developing submissions in consultation with membership to the National Human Rights Framework Baseline Study, Action Plan and National Consolidation of Anti-Discrimination Laws, recommending discrimination protections on the basis of occupation; giving evidence at Commonwealth Inquiries on Slavery and Trafficking and Fly-In, Fly-out workforce practices; consulting on the development of the Australian National Strategies on blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections; providing a submission on amendments to the Criminal Code (Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Servitude and People Trafficking) Offences Bill); providing a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Association on HIV Self-Testing; and representation on the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Policy Officers Network.

At a state level, this has included submissions on the Western Australian Prostitution Bill 2011 opposing criminalisation of clients and sex workers; on the Queensland Police Powers and Responsibilities and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 opposing police immunity for entrapment of sex workers; on the Victorian Sex Work Act 1994 opposing the mandatory HIV/STI testing of sex workers; on the South Australian Sex Work Industry Bill 2012 supporting the squashing prior convictions; on the Discussion Paper on the Regulation of the Sex Industry in Tasmania; and on brothel regulation, local government compliance and licensing design in New South Wales; appearing at the NSW Government Inquiry into the Exploitation of Women through Trafficking; and in support of the removal of government registration of sex workers recommended by the Inquiry into the ACT Prostitution Act 1992. The NSW Community Relations Commission also initiated an Inquiry into the Exploitation of Women through Trafficking, and Scarlet submitted a response in August 2012.

As Scarlet Alliance Policy Officer I also presented on sex work and the criminal justice system at the Law Faculty of the University of New South Wales and on migrant sex work at the Law Faculty of the University of Queensland; presented on the implications of rapid testing for sex workers at the 13th Social Research Conference on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Related Diseases; prepared a joint briefing paper on sex worker access to hepatitis B vaccinations with the Australian Injecting Drug Users League (AIVL); and conducted the review and re-write of the Principles for Model Sex Industry Legislation to include the last decade of sex worker rights literature, activism and research.

Prior to this I have also written policies for the Australian Sex Party on LGBTIQ rights, recommending equal access to human rights, anti-discrimination protections, ability to change legal documentation to reflect gender identity, nationally consistent age of consent laws, relationship recognition, access to reproductive technologies and asylum on the basis of sexuality.