Vixen is marking 31 August, International Overdose Awareness Day with solidarity activities aiming to highlight Victoria’s increasing rates of overdose and to commemorate the unnecessary deaths resulting from the war on drug users.

We recognize that the war on drug users is an institutional lens through which wars on people of colour, on women and gender diverse people, on street based people, and on the poor are waged by the state. 

Preventable overdose is an issue that impacts sex workers, our friends, and our loved ones. Vixen joins demands for an end to needless overdose deaths, an end to the criminalization of people who use (currently) illicit drugs, and in support of peer-led harm reduction initiatives, including a safe supply program.  

Sex workers who use drugs have always been an important part of the sex worker movement and have been at the forefront of HIV activism and prevention, harm reduction advocacy, and sex worker organising efforts in so-called Australia. 

We acknowledge that sex workers who use drugs face increased stigma and criminalisation from broader society, and unfortunately, from within the sex industry. We recognise that sex workers who use drugs, particularly street-based sex workers, First Nations and/or people of colour, parents, and those of us who choose to inject drugs, face the brunt of this double stigma and criminalisation.   

Vixen explicitly supports the decriminalisation of currently illicit drugs. We recognise that just as sex work in a decriminalised framework results in better outcomes for sex workers, the decriminalisation of currently illicit drugs will result in better health and social outcomes for people who use drugs. 

Evidence proves that criminalisation, prison, lack of access to stable housing, and stigma exacerbate overdose rates. The most effective strategy for curbing preventable overdose deaths within our communities is through safe supply and peer-led harm reduction initiatives. We call on the State to decriminalise currently illicit drugs and to instigate safe supply options for drug users as an urgent response to overdose deaths. 

Just as the broad sex worker rights movement demands a recognition of bodily autonomy in our choices about our work, sex workers who use drugs demand a recognition of our right to bodily autonomy in how and what substances we choose to use. The fight for sex worker liberation is intrinsically tied to the struggle for drug user liberation. Vixen stands in solidarity with our drug using sex worker friends, the drug user community and Harm Reduction Victoria in a shared struggle for an end to the criminalisation of our communities, and for a life free of oppression.

Today, Vixen will join a coalition of organisations, services, and community, in a solidarity bloc at a rally on the steps of Parliament House, co-ordinated by Harm Reduction Victoria. The rally is demanding access to safe supply options, an end to the criminalization of drug use and drug users, increased support for peer-led harm reduction initiatives, and commemorating our loved ones needlessly lost to the war on drug users.

Vixen recognises that the war on drug users, exemplified in Victoria’s increasing overdose rates, impacts us all, and we stand with our friends in demanding the State support peer-led solutions to the needless and unnecessary deaths impacting our community! 

For media enquiries please contact Dylan O’Hara – Manager Vixen, Victoria’s peer-only sex worker organisation on 0412 368 669 or manager@vixen.org.au

For peer support or information please contact Vixen on (03) 9070 9050