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A Failed Mission For Prostitutes.

Rev. Father A. Maximiadis

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Photograph above: Copyright © 1977 by Walter Peterson fathershomepage.com


This article is an account of attempted missionary activities that were undertaken almost two decades ago to serve the women in the “sex industry”. Over-the-counter medicines and illicit drugs 1. were not uncommon throughout the “industry”. There was a need for a specialized service to provide the women with a place for temporary relief, re-establishment for their sense of purpose, and identity. An agency was set up under the name ‘The Sanctuary’. The Mission was based upon Judaic and Christian sources. ‘Plans for welfare to give a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah, 29:11) 2. The parable of the man who ‘fell among robbers’ (Luke, 10:30) 3. And the narrative of the ‘woman who had been caught in adultery’ (John, 7:538:11) 4.


Photograph Above: Copyright © 1977/2007 by Daniel. S. Maximiadis.

The Mission began seventeen years ago prior to the formation of the ‘Prostitutes’ Action Group’ (November 1978), almost a decade before the ‘Australian Prostitutes’ Collective’ (1984). And the ‘Neave Report’ (December 1985). No specialized agency was available to serve the needs of the women or learned body of books treating the subject of prostitution. Feminists of the day did not appear to have prostitution on their agenda. Subsequently the Mission evolved, tentatively, absent of any knowledge, expertise or skills. For pragmatic purposes, it was established where it was accessible, in the hub of the “industry”; rather than a conservatively detached location

Anonymity will not apply, in this article, to persons named in media reports. Geoffrey Francis Lamb 5. signed an agreement with the writer (February 1977) for a Mission to be established. Lamb, was described by the media as “brothel king”. 6. Activities of the Mission were to include: counselling members of his staff, videlicet, women working as prostitutes, particularly those addicted to either ‘prescribed’ or ‘illicit’ drugs. And ‘to assist former employees to establish themselves in conventional employment,’ and the Mission was to have ‘total autonomy’. The agreement was accepted in principle. The writer frequently visited Brothels in Melbourne metropolitan area, from Frankston to Brunswick and Clayton to Footscray. These represented approximately 200 brothels and 50 home services. An estimated total of 2,000 women – the highest figures in ratio to a population in the world. 7. The writer extended pastoral activities to interstate brothels in Sydney and Adelaide.

Image above: Facsimile of single surviving page of the ‘Parlour Weekly’. See ‘Appendix’ below.

A publication entitled: ‘Parlour Weekly’ begun on 10 June 1977. It circulated for the women in the “industry”, firstly in Melbourne and eventually Sydney and Adelaide. It comprised of advice columns, letters and articles from the women themselves. Editorials, advertising space for owners and operators agreeing not to advertise in newspapers for workers. Supplements included namely: information and health promoting supplements ‘Breast examination,’ ‘Drugs and the Law’. Supplements supplied by Victoria Police (‘Police Life’), ‘National Drug Information Service, Health Education Centre, Anti-cancer Council of Victoria, and the National Standing Committee on Drug Dependence. Occasionally, the media quoted from articles in the ‘Parlour Weekly’, e.g., in sociological studies at Melbourne University 8.

In May 1978, with the generous co-operation of Margaret Dee, Secretary of The Prostitution Law Repeal Association N.S.W; the ‘Parlour Weekly incorporated ‘Quills and Quims’. The ‘Parlour Weekly’ is believed to be the first publication of its kind; it reached a circulation of 300. Due to insufficient resources the ‘Parlour Weekly’ ceased publication on 16 June 1978.

‘The Ideas Exchange’ – A Women’s health education project.

A programme on health was launched, under the name: ‘The Ideas Exchange’, on 6 November 1977. The first guest speaker, Dr. Peter Rennie, Victoria Health Department, presented an informal talk and colour film on the history, occurrence, process, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of syphilis and gonorrhoea.

Copyright © 1977/2007 by Walter Peterson.

Copyright © 1977/2007 by Walter Peterson.

The ‘Sanctuary’.

In February 1978, a Centre was established, in an unused brothel at 91 Nicholson Street Carlton (now a private home). The aims were to integrate the spiritual, social and health-care activities of other organisations with concern for women from either the streets or brothels. The Centre was named ‘The Sanctuary’. It was supported by an informal advisory committee consisting of two priests (Roman Catholic and Anglican), a visiting medical practitioner and a social worker. 9. It received no funding, and services were free; it survived from hand to mouth. Women in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, recognized ‘The Sanctuary’ as a place to have faith in, and a place to call ‘their own’.

‘The Sanctuary’ provided accommodation for five women, one mother and infant or child, and emergency accommodation for one woman and two children. A total of thirty women and several children were received into ‘The Sanctuary’ over a seven-month period (February – September 1978). Admissions were by direct client contact, referrals by police 10. and social work departments at two public hospitals (The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Alfred Hospital). Additional services included: accompanying women and police, during ‘record of interview,’ when invited by both women and police. Organising legal referrals, attending court with defendants (magistrates and county), and submitting recommendative pre-sentence reports. 11. 12.

‘The Sanctuary’ was apparently a unique welfare model for research of its principles and practice worthy of copying. It attracted the attention of other agencies, medical students, nurses, and social workers; two of whom conducted a research study for the Social Work Department, University of Melbourne. Invitations were also made to talk about the work of ‘The Sanctuary,’ at The Royal Melbourne University of Technology, Swinburne University of Technology and the Phillip Institute of Technology. An invitation was also made for participation in preliminary discussions with the Attorney General for impending legislation. 13.

Eight years later, the Social Questions Committee of The Catholic Women’s League of Victoria requested input in preparing for their ‘Submission to The Inquiry into Prostitution 1983, 1984’ (vide infra). The Mission occasionally attracted sceptical and scathing media coverage, particularly from: ‘The Herald’, ‘Peter Couchman Show’ (ATV Channel 10) and ‘This Day Tonight’ (ABC Channel 2). 14.

“Striptease Dancers, Psyche-delic Light Show, and an Old Fashioned Booze-up”

‘Parlour Weekly ‘ 30 July, 1978.

An additional activity of the Mission was celebrating the Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene. 15. It was an exercise to promote constructive recreational activities, sense of self, basic satisfaction, power control and forward-looking plans. Additionally, it also helped to defuse volatile undercurrents present in the “industry” at that period. The celebration was held on 23 July 1978. Participating brothels closed down, for the day, while others operated with minimal staff to enable the others to attend the party. The party included prayers, an address by the writer, a band (Paul Maddigan and The Humans), striptease dancers, psychedelic light show and “refreshments”. The event attracted almost 100 including three favourite members of the vice squad who were invited by the women.

“Cops Raid Parlor Girls’ Haven” [sic]

‘Melbourne Truth’ 12/8/1978.

Five detectives with search warrants 16. raided ‘The Sanctuary’ on 3 August 1978, following the bombing of the ‘Gas Light’ brothel in Richmond. Two women (now deceased) who were under care (one suffering from chronic physical withdrawal symptoms 17.) were traumatized by the raid, and particularly by the aggressive body searches. The detectives attempted to access the writer’s files and case histories. Consequently, the women lost faith in ‘The Sanctuary’ as a place of security, refuge and protection, and adverse reaction came from within the “industry” itself. A few brothel owners, seeking retribution against their former workers, threatened closure of ‘The Sanctuary’ if it provided services to those individuals. 18. Subsequently the ‘Parlour Weekly’ was banned, and the writer prohibited from visiting a group of brothels. ‘The Sanctuary’ was burgled, power supply disconnected and bullets fired through the ceiling below the office, fortunately lodging in the floorboards.

The coup de grâce followed a ‘discussion’ between several brothel owners and the writer concerning unscrupulous ‘work practices’. The writer was told “the property housing the Sanctuary wouldn’t be available for very much longer”. 19. These circumstances (amongst others) forced the Mission and ‘The Sanctuary’ to close on 8 September 1978

The Aftermath.

Four days later, the body of 23-year-old Susan Cairns was discovered in the building20. and according to the inquest on 23 March 1979 she “was killed by an overdose of a mixture of drugs, including Diphenhydramine, Methadone, Methaqualone and Oxazepam”. 21.

“A Health Centre Geared to the Needs of Prostitutes Should be Available”.

The Catholic Women’s League ( Victoria )

In 1984, The Social Questions Committee of The Catholic Women’s League (Victoria) offered the following recommendations:

“A closer working relationship between volunteer organisations and welfare workers should be encouraged. “Premises should be available round [sic] the inner-city where street workers and others can find a temporary ‘refuge’ from the trade. “Premises away from the street environment but geared to the needs of prostitutes should be made available. “Church organisations should be encouraged to view concerns for prostitutes as part of their mission to the poor. “Programs geared to the interests of prostitutes e.g., on health, drugs and life skills should be designed to them. “A health centre geared to the needs of prostitutes should be available in the area where they are most likely to be found. “Outreach programs in education and health care should be promoted. “Many more beds should be available for the care and rehabilitation of drug addicts”.  22. 

“Those who cannot remember the part are condemned to repeat it”.

George Santayana

History has demonstrated, time and again, that ‘regulating’ prostitution has failed dismally. Ellis cites five classical instances of failure: Rotterdam, New York, Cincinnati, Rome and Denmark. 23. The writer is curious to see if the Australian exercise proves to be an exception to overseas experience. The women themselves, the human face of prostitution, should be at the centre of any discussion on prostitution, rather than the profit-driven sex “industry” and politically driven legislature.

The writer hopes this article might generate interest and debate, perhaps from a ‘shepherding’ perspective (vide infra). Perhaps on possibilities of re-establishing a specialized agency offering a broad range of authentic services concerning self-esteem, survival, child care, behavioural patterns, drug abuse, human relations and unborn infants.

Τὸ ἠσθενηκὸς οὐκ ἐνισχύσατε καὶ τὸ κακῶς ἔχον οὐκ ἐσωματοποιήσατε καὶ τὸ συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεδήσατε καὶ τὸ πλανώμενον οὐκ ἐπεστρέψατε καὶ τὸ ἀπολωλὸς οὐκ ἐζητήσατε καὶ τὸ ἰσχυρὸν κατειργάσασθε μόχθῳ. Καὶ διεσπάρη τὰ πρόβατά μου διὰ τὸ μὴ εἶναι ποιμένας καὶ ἐγενήθη εἰς κατάβρωμα πᾶσι τοῖς θηρίοις τοῦ ἀγροῦ

Ιεζέκιηλ, xxxiv: 4,5. LXX.

The weak you have not strengthen, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.

Ezekiel 34: 4, 5.


The Mission was not the singular work of the writer, but the work of many. I am most grateful to the numerous people and organizations who contributed to the establishing and running of the Mission. Without their support, the Mission would not have been possible.

Many thanks to the women themselves, whom I’m privileged to have known and count among my friends. ‘Tracy’ who spent countless hours, between ‘clients’, writing and preparing articles for the ‘Parlour Weekly’. And the late Diana, Vanda, Lorraine, Susan, and ‘Sky’; who are fondly remembered.

Thanks to the Anglican and Roman Catholic priests for their wise counsel and guidance. And the generosity of Dr. J. M. Cohen for his voluntary visits, diagnoses and ongoing treatments at ‘The Sanctuary’.

Many thanks also to Margaret Dee (Secretary of the Prostitution Law Repeal Association NSW) for incorporating ‘Quills Quims’ into the ‘Parlour Weekly’. The Victorian Health Department for the ongoing supply of pamphlets for distribution throughout the brothels, and for medical practitioners, projectors and films for the ‘Ideas Exchange’ programme. Victoria Police for legal/drug-related literature and ‘Police Life’ for distribution. GTV Channel 9 and Wards Air Express Service for covering the costs of interstate travel.

A special thanks to Geoffrey Frances Lamb, without whose cooperation the Mission would not have been possible. Geoff took a personal interest in the Mission and kept himself informed on its progress on a day-to-day basis. He provided “industry” related advice when called upon at any time of the day or night. Geoff was a popular figure among the women who worked in his brothels and throughout the “industry”.

I am privileged to know the compassionate character of Geoff, and to have his friendship. The media portrayed him as an infamous character. I would hope that Geoff be remembered for his enthusiastic support for the Mission. Perhaps Shakespeare wasn’t far from the mark in having Antony say: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones”, (Julius Caesar, act 3, sc.2).

I am indebted to the Roman Catholic nun (Brigittine Sisters), who undertook the laborious task of preparing all documentation for Church organisations in preparing their ‘position papers’ for submission to the Victorian Government; many thanks.

Photograph Above: Ms. Regule Ranch with ‘Schneeflocke’ Copyright © 2009 by Ms.Regule Ranch

Many thanks to Ms. Regule Ranch for the German translation: ‘Ein Misslungener Versuch für das Wohlergehen von Prostituierten’. And proofreading the English 2nd Edition, and for proposing suggestions that necessitated a 3rd Revised Edition; many thanks.

Photograph above left: Lolita with Wallaby. Copyright © 2009 by fathershomepage.com

I’m also indebted to my wife, Lolita, who spent countless nights alone and for carrying our domestic financial burdens. And generously sharing her time on the telephone with the women who needed someone with whom they could talk. For her ongoing support and love (particularly during those occasions when I was in the ‘hot seat’ or getting my ‘fingers burnt’); many thanks.






  1. The consensus of public opinion regarding misappropriation of drugs focuses primarily on illicit drugs, e.g., heroin and cannabis. The media, quite often, is the protagonist to this unsatisfactory situation by its inadequate methods of news-gathering and reporting; subsequently sustaining distorted public opinion. Illicit drugs are comparatively at low ebb to socially approved drugs. A medial estimate of drug-related deaths per 100,000 population between 1977 to 1987 indicate 2.4% due to opiates and barbiturates. And 23.7% attributable to alcohol; and 73.9% due to tobacco ( see: Statistics on Drug Abuse in Australia 1988, Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health, 1988. p.35. ). Rev. Father A. Maximiadis.
  2. Holy Bible NASB, The Lockman Foundation, Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, New York, 1960. p.826.
  3. Ibid, p. 81.
  4. Ibid, p. 116.
  5. Geoffrey Lamb was the director of two companies: T.D.C. Investments and Golden Mile; owning and controlling a total of 23 brothels, generating an income of approximately $56,000.
  6. ‘The Age’, 28/10/1987.
  7. ‘The Bulletin’, 6/2/1979.
  8. ‘The Age’, 19/10/1978.
  9. ‘The Age’, 17/10/1978.
  10. Ibid, 17/1
  11. Truth, 8/101977.
  12. ‘Herald’, 18/8/1978.
  13. ‘Profiteering’ from prostitution or its ‘organizing’ is quite clearly condemned in the Resolution passed at the United Nation (UN) in 1951. The UN did not condemn prostitution but those who ‘organize’ it and ‘profit’ from it. The writer would hope that the Australian exercise is not contravening the international convention.
  14. Forums of community discussion had only a soupçon of information and understanding of prostitution at that time.
  15. Not to be confused with the narrative of the ‘woman who had been caught in adultery’ (John 7.53-8.11). [This story is not included in the earliest Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Latin manuscripts.] The celebration of the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene was based on a Western romantic tradition well known by prostitutes.
  16. The five detectives were not from the Vice Squad. Occasionally vice squad members visited ‘The Sanctuary’ but with commiseration for the women under its care.
  17. ‘Truth’, 9,12/8/1978.
  18. According to the contract signed February 1977; the Missionary activities, were to have the status of “total autonomy”.
  19. ‘Truth’, 7/10/1978.
  20. Ibid, 7/10/1978.
  21. ‘Sunday Observer’, 20/4/1980.
  22. ‘Submission to The Inquiry into Prostitution 1983,1984. pp. 21,22. ‘The Social Questions Committee’, Catholic Women’s League, Victoria.
  23. Ellis, H. ‘Studies in The Psychology of Sex’, Random House, New York. 1905. Vol. II, Chap. 3, pp. 250-52.
  24. Jessup, C.P. (Act. Ch. Supdt.) Victorian Police (Ref:10-6-002795, 28/2/1996).
  25. Batten, M. (Act. Senr. is.) National Library of Australia. (Ref:P22/1/3B), 27/8/1997.


All the editions of the ‘Parlour Weekly’ were borrowed by the Victoria Police (11 November, 1986) for matters concerning the Crown vs. Higgins, Strang and Glare. These editions were borrowed for an investigation (named Operation “Cobra”) by the Internal Investigations Department. Assurance was given that they would be returned. The trial of Higgins et al., concluded on 25 March 1993. Following numerous correspondence, between February 1990 to July 1995, requesting the return of the material, photostats of some of the originals were returned. The original copies of the ‘Parlour Weekly’ were “mislaid” during the “complicated and drawn out” court proceedings. 24.

The photostats consisted of eleven editions, and fifty-four loose pages:Vol.1, No.2, 24/6/1977. Vol.1, No.3, 8/7/1977. Vol.1, No.4, 15/7/1977. Vol.1, No.6, 19/8/1977. Vol.1, No.7, 2/9/1977. Vol. 1, No.8, 23/9/1977. Vol.1, No.11, 21/11/1977. Vol.1, No.12, (2 pgs.only), 23/12/1977. Vol.1, No.13, (1pg. only), 4/3/1978. Vol.1, No.14, 20/5/1978. Vol.1, No.15, 16/ 6/1978. And 54 loose pages.The subject matter in these surviving editions are considered by the Australian National Library, to be ‘rare’ and ‘unique’. They are now included, with the first edition of this pamphlet, into the Australian Serials at the National Library of Australia; in the ACT. 25.

A FAILED MISSION FOR PROSTITUTES. Copyright © 1994, 1997 by George G. Amad. All rights reserved. No part of this pamphlet or the ‘Parlour Weekly’ may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission. The inquiry should be made to Hannigan’s Lawyers, Solicitors Attorneys, 92 Casino Street, Casino NSW Australia 2470.EIN MISSLUNGENER VERSUCH FÜR DAS WOHLERGEHEN VON PROSTITUIERTEN. Translation Copyright © 1997 by Regula Ranch. All rights reserved. No part of this pamphlet may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission. The inquiry should be made to Hannigan’s Lawyers, Solicitors Attorneys, 92 Casino Street, Casino NSW Australia 2470.

Booerie Creek, NSW. (1st éd.) March 1994

Green Pigeon, NSW. (2nd éd. incl. Appendix.) October 1997

Green Pigeon, NSW. (3rd éd. Revised incl. Ger. transl.) December 1997

Green Pigeon, NSW. (4th éd. Revised) May 2015

~ Finis ~