St Kilda Gatehouse was founded by a group of drug and alcohol workers from the South Melbourne Restoration Community Church in 1992. Originally they sought to provide support to individuals with life controlling drug addictions in the St Kilda area. Very quickly, this team identified there was no service provision addressing the unique needs for individuals involved in street based sex work in St Kilda, particularly, the hardship experienced by street sex workers as a result of heroin addiction. The organisation adapted its mission to fill this gap and began providing counselling and support services through assertive outreach on the streets in St Kilda to street sex workers. Within two years the property in Greeves Street was secured and has been operating as the Drop-In Centre since.
In 2015 St Kilda Gatehouse launched the Young Women’s Centre in Dandenong in response to stories of sexual exploitation as young women and girls, being a pathway in to street work, related by women in St Kilda.
Currently the Drop In Centre in St Kilda is open five afternoons a week, ie Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 12 to 5pm. Every Thursday the St Kilda Centre hosts a Community BBQ from 5 to 7pm.
The Centre in Dandenong is open five days a week. To visit the Centre we ask that you phone ahead to make an appointment. 9794 7366.
The Greeves St. Op Shop at 12 Belford Street, St Kilda, is open every weekday from 11 – 5:30pm and every weekend from 12 – 4pm. The shop is closed on public holidays.
Partners and friends of women working on the streets also access St Kilda Gatehouse. St Kilda Gatehouse ensures that women always feel safe, respected and experience a strong sense of ownership and belonging.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are women only days at the St Kilda Drop In.
The Young Women’s Centre in Dandenong is a women-only space.
The experience of St Kilda Gatehouse has been that for many women street sex work is the only means to financially manage the strong pull of their drug addiction. Physical and psychological dependency occurs when a drug has been used regularly to obtain pleasure or alleviate pain and an individual must continue to use the drug in order to feel that they are able to function normally. To stop using the drug would bring on severe and painful withdrawal symptoms. These consequences are seen as greater than those confronted through street sex work.
St Kilda Gatehouse supports women who are involved in street based sex work because of hardship. The sex industry is complex and diverse. The services in St Kilda are resourced to work with a particular and specific group of people involved in the sex industry. The organisation does not attempt to speak for or about the broader sex industry. Those who access the St Kilda service may seek support for the challenges they are facing such as social isolation, homelessness, drug addiction, mental health and poverty. Often they simply wish to retreat to a place of comfort, safety and which gives them a sense of belonging. St Kilda Gatehouse does not adopt a ‘rescuing’ model. There is no evidence such a model is effective. Gatehouse sees ‘rescuing’ as further disempowerment for the women and therefore counterproductive. The approach of St Kilda Gatehouse is strengths based. Those who access the Drop In Centre initiate engagement. St Kilda Gatehouse seeks resources through various avenues, including partnerships with other agencies, so that when support is sought the organisation has the capacity to respond.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is not sex work. St Kilda Gatehouse supports young women and girls to have insight into sexual exploitation and to find pathways to safety.
No. We are specifically resourced to provide support and services to individuals involved in street based sex work due to hardship. St Kilda Gatehouse tends to use gendered language as the majority of individuals we work with are women, though we have and do work with men and transgender individuals involved in street based sex work due to hardship.
Despite a wide range of viewpoints towards the sex industry it is widely accepted that those involved in street based sex work are amongst the most marginalised, stigmatised and disadvantaged individuals in our community. It is also accepted that the factors leading to street based sex work are predominately drug addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, exploitation, poverty and mental health.
St Kilda Gatehouse provides couches in our centres, where women and girls can sleep in safety but we do not provide emergency accommodation. Much of our important work supporting women and girls is through advocacy and referrals to other support agencies.
Please drop donations at 12 Belford Street St Kilda during business hours – 11 – 5:30 weekdays and 12 – 4 on weekends.
Please call ahead to arrange a drop off on (03) 9794 7366
St Kilda Gatehouse often talks about Value Judgment. An important part of staff and volunteer training is around value judgement. We all carry our own values, which have been shaped by our experiences, learning, peers, family culture, etc. Value judgement is when an assessment that reveals more about the values of the person making the assessment, than about the reality of what is assessed. It is important in the St Kilda Gatehouse context to remain value neutral, particularly as value judgment often leads to disengagement. Strong relationships built on mutual respect and trust are what we believe are more important rather than projecting your own values. And it is these strong relationships that in the long term lead to personal growth and positive change.