MP Georgie Purcell once stripped to fund her studies. Then her photos were shared on Facebook.

When Victorian MP Georgie Purcell entered politics, she was worried that a job she had done in her early years would be "weaponised" against her. 

While at university in 2012 doing a five-year double degree in communications and law, Georgie was living out of home. It was incredibly expensive - not being able to maintain a part-time job while studying, but still having to pay the bills.

So to get by, Georgie took up stripping and topless waitressing gigs. It was the right call for her at the time.

"It allowed me the freedom to be available to study and attend uni, and not be locked into shifts," Georgie told Mamamia.

"I was only doing it for about six to seven months, but I had no signs of stopping as it was really working for me and I had a good time doing it."

"But once it was revealed publicly, I stopped," she added.

For Georgie, that was "heartbreaking". 

Watch: Mia Freedman interviews Abbie Chatfield on No Filter. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

"It was a secret that was stolen from me," she said in her maiden speech in parliament this week on that time of her life.


"I did everything I possibly could to protect my anonymity from my peers, but it didn't work. My whole world stopped on the day that my phone pinged with a notification that I had been tagged on Facebook."

Georgie froze when she saw the photo online, she recalls. Underneath it was a thread of comments from people in her regional town.

"It's really hard to explain to people who don't know what these regional communities are like," she told Mamamia about living and studying in Geelong, Victoria.

"It's very insular. I would book jobs outside of Geelong because I was paranoid that people would catch me going to work. Soon, everyone knew what I was doing."

In her parliament speech, Georgie said the feeling of having her story shared without her consent and autonomy was "the most severe of betrayals" and "the worst moment of my life".

Before it, she was an outgoing and involved student. But after, she completely shut down.

Georgie never returned to campus for a class, only returning for an exam. And she moved all her studies online.

She was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and experienced suicidal ideation. 

Now over a decade on, Georgie is in a much better place. But when she decided that she wanted to go into politics after a career in communications, law and unionism, she felt nervous that her past would surface again - and people would wrongly use it against her. 


"It became one of my biggest fears and there was so much anxiety attached to it - that it was going to happen to me again, everywhere I went to work," she told us.

"I then realised if I just made it a known thing, it couldn't be weaponised anymore."

Now 30, Georgie has seen first-hand how the narrative around sex work over the past 10 years has shifted.

She believes that if what happened to her in 2012 happened again in 2023, it would be a different story. 


"It's interesting to even consider the word 'outed' and the negative connotation," she said.

"Why should it be seen as shameful when a woman does a job that empowers them, allows them to have control over their own body and finances, and provides flexibility?"

It was only around two years ago that Georgie began talking publicly about her time stripping. She was determined to make sure no one could use it against her.

Now she's one of Victoria's newly minted members of parliament, and an Animal Justice Party MP.

And for women who read this story, Georgie wants them to know one thing: "Your past will never define your future."

"The only shameful thing about having your information shared is the act of the person who did it. That's something I wish I knew at the time, because I carried a lot of deep shame around my own decisions and for a long time really thought I had done the wrong thing," she said.

"Now I know that's absolutely not the case. I have nothing to be ashamed about."

And as she ended her maiden speech: "Here I stand today owning my story, proud of my past and ready for my future."

Feature Image: Instagram @georgie.purcell.ajp.

Love watching TV and movies? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.