Fiona Patten

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fiona Patten
Fiona Patten Portrait 2013.jpg
Fiona Patten in 2013
Leader of the Reason Party[a]
Assumed office
(as Reason Party)
29 January 2018
Preceded byHerself (as Leader of the Australian Sex Party)
In office
(as Australian Sex Party)
5 December 2009 – 24 November 2017
Preceded byParty established
Succeeded byHerself (as Leader of the Australian Reason Party)
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan
In office
29 November 2014 – 26 November 2022
Preceded byMatthew Guy
President of the Eros Association
In office
21 November 1992 – 23 November 2014
Preceded byOrganisation established
Succeeded byDavid Watt
Director of the National Museum of Erotica
Assumed office
1 March 2001
Preceded byInstitution established
Personal details
Fiona Heather Patten

May 1964 (age 58)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Political partyReason Party[a] (since 2009)
Other political
Hare-Clark Independent (1991–1992)
Independent (1992–2009)
Residence(s)Melbourne, Australia
EducationHawker College
Alma materUniversity of Canberra
OccupationChief executive officer
(eros association)
fashion designer
(body politics)
Former sex worker

Fiona Heather Patten (born May 1964) is a former Australian politician. She is the leader of the Reason Party and was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council between 2014 and 2022, representing the Northern Metropolitan Region until she lost her seat at the 2022 state election.

Patten established the Australian Sex Party in 2009 to focus on personal freedoms after deep frustration with stagnation on censorship, freedom, Marriage Equality and drug law reform. On 22 August 2017, it was announced that the Australian Sex Party would be changing its name to the Reason Party.[1][2][3]

Before entering politics, Patten was the CEO of Australia's national adult industry association, Eros Association. She championed sexual rights and health movements for more than 20 years, particularly on HIV/AIDS, after initially starting out as a small businesses owner with her own fashion label.

During her time as a Victorian MP, Patten has been credited for playing pivotal roles in achieving social reforms in Victoria, with examples including the passage of Victoria's assisted dying legislation, the trial of a medically supervised drug injecting room in Richmond, relaxing laws for ride-share companies such as Uber and establishing buffer zones for abortion clinics to keep protesters away from patients and staff.[4][5]

According to The Age, between November 2018 and November 2021, Patten voted with the Andrews Government's position 74.3% of the time, the second-most of any Legislative Council crossbencher, behind only Andy Meddick.[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Patten was born in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, the daughter of Colin Richard Lloyd "Rick" Patten, an Australian naval officer, and his wife Anne, a Scottish-born public servant who worked for a government-owned telecommunications company.[1]

Rick and Anne Patten had met in Scotland, where the former had been posted, and after her birth Patten spent parts of her childhood in the United Kingdom and the United States, in concert with her father's postings. Patten has two younger sisters.

Patten received her primary education overseas. She excelled in sport and took particular interest in swimming. Upon returning to Australia with her family in 1978, Patten attended Hawker College in Canberra where she studied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Industrial Arts, Technical Drawing, Landscape Design and Environmental Studies. She went on to study Landscape Architecture and Industrial Design at the University of Canberra. She later graduated with qualifications in fashion design and started her own fashion label, Body Politics. The first boutique was opened in Yarralumla in the late 1980s, where she sold her own fashion creations as well as the designs of colleagues in Sydney. During the early 1990s recession in Australia, interest in Patten's expensive collection was received largely from workers in the sex industry.[2][3]

Business career, 1988–2014[edit]

Body Politics[edit]

Patten started her career with her company Body Politics. With her large clientele of sex workers, Patten became interested in sex workers' rights, eventually joining Workers in Sex Employment (WISE), a lobbying group, to inform at-risk members of the population about the emerging threat of HIV/AIDS. Patten was employed as an outreach speaker, and would once a week visit brothels to teach the women about safe sex.[4][5]

From 1990 to 1992, Patten was a sex worker herself. Her initial encounter began at Tiffany's Palace in Canberra, where she had intercourse with a client when another worker was unavailable.[6]

"I remember it all very clearly and thinking afterwards: how easy was that? It was just so easy. There was this nice man in his early 30s, we had a spa and sex and that was that" – Fiona Patten, article by Sally Patten for the Australian Financial Review, December 2014[7]

Patten eventually lost interest in her work, which had also interfered with her social and professional life. After working as a female escort in Cairns, Queensland, Patten quit sex work in 1992 and continued in sex education.[8]

Eros Association[edit]

In 1992, Patten and her partner, Robbie Swan, established the Eros Association, a peak body for the adult industry.[7] [9][10]

The company extended its interests into publications, public relations, business, and political advocacy. Eros was heavily involved in the editing and publication of a political humour and satire magazine entitled Matilda, an adult magazine entitled Ecstacy, and launched their own "sex and politics" themed magazine Eros.[11]

The Eros Association was instrumental in support for the Brindabella Wilderness Project, an initiative to preserve wildlife in the Brindabella Valley and Mountains.[12]

In 2001, the company established the first National Museum of Erotica, dedicated to the history of erotica and the preservation of erotic art, literature, film and photography. The museum was unveiled by Chief Minister Kate Carnell. While the physical presence of the museum was closed in 2002, the collection remained preserved and continued to grow, with over 400 individual pieces cataloged by 2005, and instead maintained a virtual presence on the internet. [13]

Patten scaled down her interests in the company in 2000 to pursue other interests in advocacy. She returned in 2006, and left again in 2014 when she was elected to the Victorian Parliament.

National Museum of Erotica[edit]

The National Museum of Erotica was opened in Canberra in 2001, dedicated to the history of erotica and the preservation of erotic art, literature, film and photography. The museum was unveiled by Chief Minister Kate Carnell, and was the first establishment of its kind in Australia.[14]

The National Museum of Erotica collected works from the likes of Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman, Salvatore Zofrea, Lesbia Thorpe, Richard Larter, Mario Azzopardi, and more historically Mihály Zichy. Patten expressed that the collection and archiving of erotic, pornographic and sexual art and artefacts is fundamentally different from the collection of non-sexual material because the former was perceived as a rapidly diminishing resource in the world.[15]

The museum housed erotic artistic works, including paintings, pictures, pin-up, illustrated books, comic strips and films, from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hungary, Russia and Australia.[16]

The museum also displayed a collection of sex toys, including dildos, vibrators and other mechanical devices dating back to the late 1800s.[17]

The museum was closed in 2002, but the collection remained preserved and continued to grow, with over 400 individual pieces cataloged by 2005. The museum now maintains an internet archive.[18]

Political career 1992–present[edit]

Patten first sought election in the 1992 ACT general election. Patten contested the second election for representation in the multi-member single constituency Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly on a ticket called the Hare-Clark Independent Group, in association with the larger group of independent politicians who entered an alliance with the Liberal and Residents Rally government. Patten ran alongside the sitting member Craig Duby, however both Duby and Patten were unsuccessful in being elected.[8]

Australian Sex Party (2009–2017)[edit]

Patten in 2009

In 2009, Patten founded the Australian Sex Party, which began by focusing on law reform for the sex industry, but soon "broadened [its] platform to include supporting voluntary euthanasia, same-sex marriage, decriminalising cannabis for personal use, greater transparency in government through freedom of information laws, and increasing people’s right to privacy."[9]

Patten contested the seat of Higgins in Victoria at the 2009 by-election. She received over 3 percent of the vote, placing her 4th out of 10 candidates. Her campaign was based on opposing Greens Victoria candidate Clive Hamilton's proposal for an ISP-level Internet filter which would block access to websites containing RC-rated content—that is, legal material which is banned from sale, trade or public exhibition due to its extreme nature.[citation needed]

Patten publicly criticized the proposal. She appeared in the Four Corners episode "Access Denied" arguing that it would include blocking access to adult films such as Pirates—refused classification because of a technicality—that do not depict sexual violence, are extremely popular overseas and are available for download on dozens of websites.[10]

The party contested all states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, in the Senate and six of 150 House of Representatives seats at the 2010 federal election. The party won 2.04 percent of the national Senate vote, over 250,000 first preferences.[11] After the major parties and the Greens, the Sex Party during the vote count were "neck and neck" with the Family First Party for the fourth place in the national Senate vote.[12] The party "outpolled several more prominent minor parties and came within about 10,000 votes of Family First for the Senate in Victoria".[13] After the party's first federal election contest, Patten claimed that the Sex Party was "now the major minor party in Australian politics":

We've polled better than the Greens did in their first federal election and believe that our vision of Australia as the most socially progressive country in the world is equal to the Greens environmental messages of 20 years ago.[14]

While the Sex Party did not win any seats, their preferences were substantially beneficial to the Greens who won a Senate seat in every state for the first time.[15][16]

Patten contested the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council at the 2010 Victorian state election.[17]

Patten contested the 2012 Melbourne state by-election, coming third out of 16 candidates, receiving 6.6 percent of the vote, in the absence of a Liberal Party candidate. She says the party preferenced Labor ahead of the Greens due to the "anti-sex feminist movement" within the Greens,[18][19] but that future preferences may change again.[20]

Patten was again a Sex Party candidate for a senate seat in Victoria at the 2013 federal election.

Patten successfully contested the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council during the 2014 Victorian state election becoming the first candidate for the Australian Sex Party to be elected to parliament.[21]

Reason Party (2017–present)[edit]

Fiona Patten in 2019

On 22 August 2017, there were reports that the Australian Sex Party would be changing its name and becoming the Reason Party.[1][2][3] This was later confirmed, and the Reason Party registered for federal elections in Australia in May 2018, and was confirmed as "Reason Australia" on 30 August 2018.

In February 2022, the state of Victoria decriminalised sex work. The bill passed to repeal offences and criminal penalties for consensual sex work between adults. "The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2021 will partially abolish street-based sex work offences and associated public health offences, remove the licensing system and move to regulate the industry through existing agencies." Patten has been referenced as having led Victoria's review into decriminalising the industry and been fighting for reforms for 40 years.[22]

In February 2022, Patten introduced a bill to the Victorian upper house to decriminalise all drugs. Under the proposal police would issue a compulsory notice and referral of drug education or treatment to people found to have used or possessed an illicit drug. Those who comply with the notice will not be found guilty or receive a criminal record. "Patrick Lawrence, chief executive of addiction, mental health and legal services hub First Step, said the bill would ensure those struggling with addiction, who were often targeted by Victoria's drug laws, received help rather than condemnation."[23][24]

On 20 September 2022, she revealed that she has cancer.[25]

At the 2022 Victorian state election, Patten was unsuccessful in her re-election to the Victorian Legislative Council.


Patten's book Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll was published in 2018.[26][27][28] It took her two years to write.[29]


  • Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll: My unlikely journey from sex worker to Member of Parliament (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, ISBN 9781925575132, published in 2018)


Patten was awarded the 2020 Australian Humanist of the Year at the Wayback Machine (archived 22 September 2021) for her achievements in leading debate and securing legislation on many issues of concern to humanists, particularly end of life, abortion safety, sexual health and drugs of addiction.[30]


  1. ^ a b "Australian Sex Party to become the Reason Party". 21 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Sex Party to change name to Reason Party, founder Fiona Patten announces". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 22 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Sex Party changes its name, MP takes aim at 'extremists' in Australian politics". SBS News. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  4. ^ Preiss, Benjamin (11 December 2018). "Fiona Patten wins back upper house seat after nervous two-week wait". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  5. ^ Carey, Adam (11 December 2018). "Party in the upper house: Who's who on new Victorian crossbench". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  6. ^ Sakkal, Paul (26 November 2021). "'Is this what compliant looks like?': Victoria's crossbench conflict". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  7. ^ Mark Dapin, "Now that Sex Party MP Fiona Patten has your attention ...", The Age, 13 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  8. ^ "List of candidates". 1992 Election. ACT Electoral Commission. 1992. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Sex Party's Fiona Patten on her journey from parlour to Parliament". The Australian Financial Review. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  10. ^ Quentin McDermott (7 May 2010). "Access Denied". Four Corners. ABC.
  11. ^ First Preferences for the Senate – 2010 federal election: AEC Archived 1 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Australian Sex Party does well: 24 August 2010 Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Australian Sex Party picks up votes". Herald Sun. 24 August 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  14. ^ Sex Party Now The Major Minor Party in Australian Politics: Sex Party website 23 August 2010 Archived 2 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Greens win seats in every state". 3 August 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Senate Results - Summary - 2010 Federal Election - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  17. ^ "Sex Party hoping to get lucky in Victoria". 25 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Greens snub could cost preferences in Melbourne by-election". 19 July 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  19. ^ The Melbourne byelection special: 3AW 19 July 2012 Archived 24 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Official by-election outcome still days away: Yahoo News 23 July 2012[dead link]
  21. ^ "Minor parties to make up almost one third of Victoria's newly-elected Upper House". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 16 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  22. ^ Godde, Callum; Woods, Emily (10 February 2022). "Vic decriminalises sex work as bill passes". The Examiner. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  23. ^ "Support grows for Portugal-style plan to decriminalise drug use and possession in Victoria". SBS News. 23 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  24. ^ "Reason Party Leader to introduce bill to decriminalise all drugs". ABC News (Australia). 18 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  25. ^ Kolovos, Benita (20 September 2022). "Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten reveals kidney cancer diagnosis". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  26. ^ Moriarty, Liane; Chan, Gabrielle; Williams, Robyn; Kneen, Krissy; Mares, Peter; King, Madonna; David, Sornig; Patten, Fiona; Kurmelovs, Royce; Morton, Rick (24 September 2018). "Liane Moriarty, Fiona Patten, Krissy Kneen: books to read in October". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll". Allen & Unwin. Allen & Unwin. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll". goodreads. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  29. ^ Wright, Tony (5 September 2018). "'I hadn't had a lot of sex lately': Fiona Patten, from sex worker to politician". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Australian Humanist of the Year 2020". Humanists Australia. 15 July 2020. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  1. ^ a b formerly the Australian Sex Party

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]