Project Respect

Project Respect is a support service for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry.

About

Project Respect is a specialised essential support service for women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry. A non-judgemental service, we are open to all women in the industry.

To support women, Project Respect works in four ways:

One, we facilitate access to essential services - such as healthcare, legal representation and housing services. We provide emotional support for women making police reports or going to court. While many organisations become targeted, addressing just one area of need, Project Respect remains open. Led entirely by the needs of women, we assist and support women by linking in to the broad range of community and social services. At the centre of our support work is regular outreach, where we visit and deliver information to licensed brothels in the Greater Melbourne Region. We do this so woman know we are available to them - without judgement - should they need us.

We also connect women together, supporting them to support one another, in their shared experiences. Intense stigma around the sex industry means it can be isolating. Through peer-led community lunches we nurture a safe, non-judgemental and supportive network. For many women, Project Respect is simply and powerfully about belonging. It’s their place to be. Outside the mainstream, in these rare spaces, women are understood, welcomed, and treated with respect.

Three, we develop the workforce capability of the broader services system, to build their knowledge and understanding of the issues women experience, and the barriers they face in accessing the mainstream system. We educate services about human trafficking in Australia, and build their ability to identify, respond and refer potential cases of trafficking. We aim to build a service system where woman can access services free from stigma and discrimination, and where they have choice in the services they can select.

Lastly, we advocate for women’s rights against violence, trafficking and exploitation. To improve life for women in the sex industry, we must improve the status of women overall. That’s why we work directly with all levels of government, lobbying for broad policy change. We argue for a human rights-based approach to protecting survivors of trafficking. We argue for better conditions for women while they are in the sex industry. We help expose violence against women, and push for solutions to eradicate it. In all this work, we ensure the voices of women with lived experience are heard. We offer women a platform to write, speak and meet directly with decision makers. We know that their voices and leadership will create the positive change we seek.

At Project Respect, we believe that all women have the right to feel safe and respected. We are fundamentally for and about women’s rights and needs. We are committed to doing what is needed to achieve a world free from sexual exploitation.

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