- In Conversation: Fiona Patten
Saturday 8 June
Cedar Bar & Kitchen
- Biography, Memoir & Blog: Life Stories
Sunday 9 June
Fiona is the founder and leader of the Reason Party (formerly the Australian Sex Party) and a Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for the Northern Metropolitan region. A former sex worker, fashion designer, anti-censorship activist, fierce campaigner, political lobbyist and now Member of Parliament —Fiona’s life has been nothing if not eventful.
From her early days as an AIDS-HIV educator and activist and CEO of Australia’s national adult goods and services lobby group, the Eros Association, Fiona has always fought hard for what she believed in. But all too often, she has come face to face with apathy and deeply-rooted conservatism. Frustrated and deeply disappointed by the lack of social change and progress around censorship, drug law reform, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, Fiona set up and registered the Australian Sex Party in 2009.
The Sex Party led with a strong focus on civil libertarian and personal freedom issues, and Fiona became the first Leader of a political party to call for a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions. In 2014, Fiona contested and won an upper house seat in Victoria. As one of five crossbenchers, she currently holds the balance of power in the Legislative Council.
Since her election, Fiona has successfully instigated landmark parliamentary inquiries and legislation, including Australia’s largest public inquiry into drug law reform, voluntary assisted dying laws, the legalisation of ridesharing, safe access zones for abortion clinics and the introduction of a bill for a medically supervised injecting centre.
In August 2017, the Australian Sex Party was dissolved to make way for Reason, a movement of radical common sense. Since being elected Fiona has garnered respect from all sides of the political divide and has worked tirelessly to deliver legislative reforms that many thought impossible. As ABC 774’s Jon Faine put it “She is, without doubt, Australia’s most effective legislator.”
Fiona’s 2018 book Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll tells of her unlikely journey from sex worker to Member of Parliament. It’s an entertaining and inspiring story of how one woman used her own radical common sense to speak truth to power and fight for change.