Macquarie University
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Indigenous Australian experiences of sex work: stories of agency, autonomy and self-determination

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:42 authored by Corrinne Tayce Sullivan
The lived experiences of Indigenous Australian sex workers are largely unknown. Through qualitative semi-structured interviews with seven Indigenous sex workers and two health/support workers, this thesis shares stories of the ways in which Indigenous Australian sex workers negotiate their everyday lives, as well as their cultural, gender and sexual identities. The thesis finds that Indigenous Australian sex workers work in the sex industry for financial reasons, mainly to achieve economic independence and to support their lifestyles. They reported predominantly positive experiences of working in the sex industry, with negative experiences related to cultural rejection and loss. This thesis is an exploration of Indigenous Australian sex workers lives and experiences through an Indigenous Standpoint Theoretical lens that draws forward new empirical knowledge about the way in which Indigenous sexuality and gender expression is understood. It sits within geographic and sexuality studies, as well as Indigenous studies. Importantly, the research is sex positive given its emphasis on themes of sex, sexuality and gender, and promotes the multiplicity of Indigenous genders and sexualities, and advocates for the recognition of diversity within Indigenous Australian communities. It is primarily an empirical engagement seeking meaning and understanding in broader social/cultural/political contexts and is firmly rooted in the voices of the participants. The research is warranted due to the insufficient social science research on Indigenous Australian sexualities and genders more broadly. The research in part addresses this significant gap in the research literature on Indigenous sex workers, as well as Indigenous Australian perspectives of sexuality and gender, by providing counter narratives to colonio-centric heteronormative perspectives that have been applied in past research with Indigenous peoples


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction -- Chapter 2: Methodology and Theory -- Chapter 3: Who holds the key? Negotiating gatekeepers, community politics and the' right' to research in Indigenous spaces -- Chapter 4: Indigenous Australian women's colonial sexual intimacies: positioning Indigenous women's agency -- Chapter 5: 'People pay me for sex': Contemporary lived experiences of Indigenous Australian sex workers -- Chapter 6: Majesty in the City: experience of an Aboriginal transgender sex worker in Sydney, Australia - Chapter 7: Indigenous transmasculine Australians & sex work -- Chapter 8: 'Hot, young, buff': An Indigenous Australian gay cis-male view of sex work -- Chapter 9: Indigenous Australian Sexualities through the lens of sex work -- Chapter 10: Conclusion -- References -- Appendicies


Bibliography: pages 164-167 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography and Planning

Department, Centre or School

Department of Geography and Planning

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jess McLean


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