Kathleen Maltzahn

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Kathleen Maltzahn
Kathleen Maltzahn.jpg
Kathleen Maltzahn
Personal details
Born (1966-09-18) 18 September 1966 (age 47)
Morwell, Vic
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Greens
Domestic partner Helena Maher
Residence Fitzroy North
Occupation Politician
Website [1]

Kathleen Maltzahn (born 19 September 1966) is an author, women’s rights and anti-trafficking campaigner. She is a former councillor for the City of Yarra and was the Greens candidate for the state seat of Richmond in the 2010 Victorian state election.


Maltzahn was born in Morwell, Victoria.

Maltzahn attended high school in Melbourne’s inner-east, and completed her Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 1984. She commenced study at the University of Melbourne the following year, and completed her Bachelor of Arts in 1988, returning in 1996 to undertake a postgraduate diploma in women's studies.[1]

Maltzahn currently lives with her partner Helena Maher in Fitzroy North.

From 1989 to 1990, and 1992–1995, Maltzahn worked in the Philippines, primarily on initiatives aimed at combating violence against women in the sex industry. In 1992, she began working at Dayang, conducting outreach to women in bar prostitution, and in 1994 was invited to design and implement the first project for women in street prostitution in Quezon City, Metro Manila, called SINAG Special Project on Prostitution.

Maltzahn went on to work at the East Timor Human Rights Centre from 1999 to 2000, first as a consultant, than as Interim Director while the centre sought a Timorese Director, and then as Training and Education Coordinator.

After returning to Australia, Maltzahn founded Project Respect, an organisation committed to challenging violence against women in the sex industry. Under her leadership, Project Respect spearheaded a national campaign on trafficking for prostitution that led the Federal Government to change sexual slavery legislation, end the mandatory deportation of trafficking victims and introduce a $20 million package on trafficking.[1][2]

In 2008, Maltzahn authored Trafficked, the first book length account about the trafficking of women for prostitution, published by University of New South Wales Press.[3] In 2008, Trafficked was shortlisted for a Human Rights Award by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission in the Literature Non-Fiction Category.

Maltzahn was the executive director of Women’s Health in the North from 2007 to 2010 – an organization in Melbourne’s Northern metropolitan region that works to improve women's health[4] – from which she resigned in 2010 to campaign full-time as the Greens candidate for the seat of Richmond at the upcoming state election.[1]

She is currently the Chairperson of the Eastern Region Regional Family Violence Prevention, a partnership of over 25 organisations in Melbourne’s east working to improve the safety of women and children experiencing family violence and the accountability of people using violence.

Political career[edit]

Local politics[edit]

Maltzahn served as a Greens councillor on the City of Yarra from 2004 to 2008. During her tenure, she chaired council’s Disability Advisory Committee (2004-08), Bicycle Advisory Committee (2006-08), Finance and Human Services Committee (2007-08), and instigated and chaired council’s Male Sexual Violence Prevention Policy Working Group.[1]

In 2008, Maltzahn stood as the Greens candidate for Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne City Council, alongside fellow Green Adam Bandt, who was running for the office of Lord Mayor. Bandt and Maltzahn finished second behind winner Robert Doyle.

State politics[edit]

On July 3, 2009, Maltzahn was preselected as the Victorian Greens candidate for the state Legislative Assembly in the inner-Melbourne seat of Richmond.[5] She won 28.44% of the vote, a swing of 3.76% from the previous election.[6]


Maltzahn has been criticised as "ill-informed" and "meddling" by the Victorian Sex Industry Network, who say "It is clear... that she hasn't talked to local sex workers".[7] despite the fact that Maltzahn has worked closely with women in the sex industry for many years. Though Maltzahn has said she believes the "sale of sexual services should be decriminalised",[8] she has also said she "supports the Swedish model",[9] which makes it illegal to purchase a person for sex. This has led to criticism from the media and other political groups. The Australian said she "wants to take the regulated prostitution industry and make it illegal again, as it was in the 1950s", labeling her a "conservative" and "sex-negative feminist".[10]

At the Feminist Futures Conference in Melbourne 2011, several sex workers protested Maltzahn's speech. The sex workers turned their backs on Maltzahn and held up signs reading 'Kathleen Maltzahn supports laws that harm sex workers' - alluding to her support of greater police powers to enter sex workers' workplaces and to criminalise their clients.[11] The Australian Sex Party have accused her of being an "anti-sex campaigner" and preferenced Labor ahead of the Greens in the Victorian Legislative Assembly by-election for the seat of Melbourne on July 21, 2012 which caused The Greens a narrow loss.[12]


In 2004 Kathleen Maltzahn was awarded an RMIT Research Award, with Dr Sallie Yea, for ‘Countering Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Australia’.

In 2005, she was awarded the inaugural Dame Phyllis Frost Award from the National Council of Women of Victoria in recognition of her work as an anti-trafficking campaigner.[1]



External links[edit]