Having a receptionist to handle enquirIes, explain services, prices and manage bookings is usual practice for many small/micro/sole operator businesses, but this is enough to land you in court if you are a sex worker in Queensland.
Obviously employing someone else to handle this administration aspect of your business means you are able to work more effectively. Let’s take a accountant or beauty therapist for whom it’s not practical to answer enquires while with a customer. Of course having someone else to book people in maximises your time and earning potential.
For some people it’s because only a small percentage of enquires are actually customers who will actually turn into bookings. That’s the case for sex workers, particularly in Queensland where the law also prevents you providing any information on the service you provide, resulting in a lot of enquires seeking services you don’t provide.
A recent case in Queensland saw a sex worker who didn’t speak English as a first language dragged through the courts, with media including her name and a photo leaving the court. Effectively ‘outing’ her as a sex worker to the general community and making her vulnerable to the high level of stigma and discrimination sex workers experience. But why the full colour photo shot of the woman who hired a receptionist? Where is the public interest in a person who commits such an offence as to use a common business practice?
In addition to the ridiculousness of this being a crime in the first place is the way it was reported. Journalist Blake Antrobus, no doubt for the purpose of making this matter of exceptionally low public interest into public interest, has framed the practice of having a receptionist ‘bizarre’, even ‘strange’, before adding the persons full front face shot.
Wouldn’t the real public interest piece be why are public funds being used in this way. Imagine the cost of the undercover ‘sting’ that uncovered this matter?
The act of employing a receptionist in Queensland means you are operating illegally and so risk a Criminal Code offence. On top of that your phone and technology can become tainted goods – another charge.
All of this can amount to several thousand dollars worth of fines and a conviction.
In his case the magistrate fined the individual $1000 with no conviction recorded, maybe indicating that the charge is not inline with community attitudes that recognise sex work as work and these laws as extremely out of date.
Sex workers in Queensland have been loud and clear in the call for decriminalisation of sex work. Specifically sex workers want the repeal of laws in the Criminal Code that criminalise sex worker safety strategies and those in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act that allow police to pose as clients and entrap sex workers for crimes as heinous as hiring a receptionist!