WEIGHT: 54 kg
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Please try again later. Luke is a year-old heroin addict whose body is for sale. Wearing a grey Adidas tracksuit top and jeans, he stands on the footpath bordering a quiet St Kilda park, watching the passing cars, and waiting for a driver to stop, wind down the window and ask the question he has heard many times: "How much?
He started working the streets more than a year ago and despite the exhaustion in his eyes and the pallor of his face, he could still pass for younger than he is. His blond spiky hair and skinny frame signal his youth to the men who drive slowly by. Tonight, there's a chill in the air and the coffee in Luke's foam cup offers little warmth. Hands in his pockets, high on heroin, he waits to be paid for sex.
I know they're using me but I'm using them too. What Luke doesn't know is that in a few weeks he will be placed in a detox program to help him battle his addiction. The Department of Human Services will provide a place for him for treatment and links will be made with a local community organisation to help Luke avoid returning to the St Kilda beat. It is hoped the detox program will help him escape the prostitution cycle.
Maybe he will be one of the lucky ones. Luke is one of up to 20 men and boys who regularly work as male street prostitutes along the edges of a park near the northern end of Acland Street. The beat is tucked away in a quiet spot that does not have the notoriety of other St Kilda sex strips, such as Grey and Inkerman streets. According to Greg Adkins, team manager with Inner South Community Health, male sex workers comprise up to 15 per cent of Melbourne's total prostitution population.
Most are over the age of 18 but there are boys as young as 16 working the beat. Many older sex workers say they started their careers when they were Often these underage sex workers have already been let down by the welfare system. Ken Patterson, the deputy chief executive of the Children's Welfare Association of Victoria, says young people in child protection programs sometimes end up in prostitution.