Traralgon brothel gets red light

A sex worker who wants to open a brothel in Traralgon has to wait 18 days to see if her successful application will be overturned.

On Monday night Latrobe City councillors approved an application for a brothel in Standing Drive, but councillor Christine Sindt has since lodged a rescission motion.

That means all action in relation to the original decision must stop until councillors again consider the matter at their next meeting, about three weeks away.

“They’re just tapping on extra time,” the applicant told The Express yesterday.

“It’s definitely affecting the way I would like to run my business.”

The applicant, who wished to be named Tracy to protect her identity, has compared Cr Sindt’s actions with “giving a kid a lollipop and then taking it away from them”.

Last year she applied to open an exempt brothel in a Standing Drive warehouse, which would operate by appointment only with strictly no walk-in traffic.

An exempt brothel is a small owner-operated business that can operate with two sex work service providers.

By law a licence is not required, but details must be registered with the Business Licensing Authority.

Tracy said by operating a brothel legally, she could work in a safe environment with security measures in place.

“You’re not allowed to work out of a motel if you’re an escort in Victoria,” she said.

“If there is a problem, a rough client, they (escorts) are less inclined to contact the authorities about the situation if they’re working out of a motel. It’s illegal.”

Tracy’s application was approved on the conditions a management plan with relevant security and safety measures be submitted with the responsible authority.

The council officer’s recommendation of approval stated “the number of rooms to be used for the purpose of prostitution must not exceed two”.

No more than five people, including sex workers, support and patrons, were to be on the site at any one time.

The proposed brothel may open between 10am to 10pm seven days a week.

Latrobe City general manager of city development Phil Stone said the proposed brothel’s location met required threshold distances under the Sex Work Act 1994.

“This includes schools, hospitals, places of worship, kindergartens, children’s services centres or places regularly frequented by children,” Mr Stone said.

“Therefore, proximity to children was not considered sufficient reason to recommend a refusal of the application.”

Because brothels are considered non-industrial, Mr Stone said the application could be seen to fragment an already established industrial zone in Standing Drive.

“However, as the application proposed to use an existing warehouse for a brothel, and there were no proposed building and works as part of the application, fragmentation did not present a problem,” he said.

On Monday three people cited their concerns about the application before councillors began debating the matter, with councillor Dale Harriman arguing the brothel should not be allowed in that location.

He said there was a lot of community angst regarding the brothel’s proximity to nearby food bank Heart Focus Community Care often accessed by the disadvantaged, young mothers and children.

“I think as councillors we’re meant to take community concerns on board and we need to be aware of what’s happening in that area,” Cr Harriman told The Express.

“To have that food bank in that area and have lots of kids and disadvantaged people using that area, we weren’t taking their needs into consideration.

“That’s one reason you become a councillor – to ensure the community’s needs and concerns are heard.”

The Express understands Cr Sindt lodged the rescission motion to allow extra time for consideration and discussion with other councillors.

Councillor Harriman encouraged “everybody with a view” to attend or speak at the upcoming council meeting on 21 March.