Dame Catherine Healy was appointed National Coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) in 1989, which was a voluntary role until 1992, and in this role she has built NZPC into a globally respected public health provider with six branches across New Zealand.
NZPC focuses on sex workers’ rights, HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection prevention, and education. NZPC offers free sexual health clinics at their community bases. From 1989 she gathered support for a campaign to decriminalise prostitution from a wide variety of organisations including the Young Women’s Christian Association, National Council of Women, and the AIDS Foundation. In 1996 she established a cross-party grouping in Parliament to work with her and NGO leaders to catalyse law reform. She coordinated the group in developing a model Bill to safeguard the human rights and occupational safety of sex workers. The Bill was introduced in 2000 and passed in 2003. Post-decriminalisation she was appointed a member of the Prostitution Law Review Committee, which reported that sex workers were markedly better off under the Prostitution Reform Act. She has overseen the NZPC for 30 years and has provided personal support to local sex workers. Dame Catherine is a member of the National HIV and AIDS Forum and a consultant for the World Health Organisation in relation to HIV prevention, and is frequently called upon to provide advice to government and non-government organisations globally.