Rachel Watton, a sex worker, Churchill Fellow, and PhD candidate at Western Sydney University, wrote the informative thesis titled “Sex workers who provide services to clients with disability in New South Wales, Australia”.

Reasons of the study

Historically, the sexuality and sexual needs/ desires of people with disabilities have been overlooked among the general public. Through an exploratory study about sex workers who provide services to clients with a disability, the research aims to identify the nature and extent of such activities to produce empirical data supporting anecdotal evidence and recent emerging research in this field.

Rachel designed an exploratory online survey for the study to request sex workers who worked in New South Wales. It allows the respondents to share their experiences of providing services to clients with disability. The questions in the survey include the frequency, type, and range of services offered, the location of service delivery and how clients made contacts. Meanwhile, the survey also encouraged the participants to share their perspectives on the positive aspects of their work.

The responses demonstrate the professional enthusiasm of the respondents for engaging with clients with disabilities. Additionally, the respondents expressed a desire for further training and support to overcome barriers and address challenging situations that may impact communication and supportive pathways between themselves and their clients.

In addition to valuable information, the thesis shows us much helpful information, such as:

The Purple – Red scale of Attraction

The scale measures attraction in two dimensions: “who” you’re sexually attracted to and “how” you’re attracted to them. Langdon Parks created the new scale of attraction to replace the 1948 Kinsey Scale – a model often criticised for not including enough diversity.

Organisations and access to the connection of sex workers and people with disability

Touching Base Inc (Australia) and TLC- Trust (UK) are the two most prominent organisations. In 2013, Equitable and Accessible Sexual Expression (EASE) established itself in Canada. Furthermore, some countries have established government-sanctioned funding arrangements to assist with paid sexual services for people with disabilities. The most notable are Netherlands and Denmark.

At the time Rachel wrote the thesis, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) had not yet confirmed its support for the sexual needs and desires of adults with disabilities. However, it is important to note that the situation has since changed. While the NDIS generally does not fund sex workers, exceptions may be acceptable if reaching some certain reasonable and necessary criteria, and the participant’s Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or planner can provide the approval. 

Moreover, the NDIS can fund a sex therapist who can provide sexual education or practical advice and recommend activities to help people achieve their sexual goals.

On a side note, I would like to recommend our NDIS Support Coordination team, who utilise a person-centred approach and possess a wealth of practical experience in guiding clients through the entire NDIS process with tailored solutions.

Thesis by Rachel Watton: Sex workers and clients with disability in NSW

Some results and anticipation of the study

Back to the thesis, the exploratory study used a snowball sampling methodology and peer-reviewed questions, resulting in a valuable resource for those interested in the intersection of sex work, disability, and sexuality. In addition, the use of an online survey program allowed for maximum confidentiality safeguards, ensuring that every participant remained anonymous.

The data-packed study is expected to prompt policy development and law reform in the field, both within Australia and overseas. The results also provide a helpful framework for disability support agencies and family members to allow them more easily navigate the process of supporting someone’s access to the sex industry.

A post may not be able to encompass all the valuable insights and outcomes of a research study. If interested in the topic, please read through the study for a more comprehensive understanding.

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