On 22 February 2022, the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 was passed by the Victorian Parliament. This means sex work will be decriminalised in Victoria.
Decriminalisation will make consensual sex work legal in most locations across Victoria.
It will be regulated just like any other industry by agencies such as WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Health. This will ensure every worker in the industry is entitled to the same treatment and protections under law, with rights to call out discrimination and unsafe workplaces or practices.
Only sex work between consenting adults will be decriminalised. Criminal offences to protect children and workers from coercion and address other forms of non-consensual sex work will continue to be enforced by state and federal law enforcement agencies.
On this page:
Timeline of reforms
Decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria is occurring in two stages to allow time to transition to a different model of regulation.
Stage 1 commenced on 10 May 2022 and includes:
- the decriminalisation of street-based sex work in most locations
- the repeal of offences for working with a sexually transmitted infection and requirements to undergo regular STI testing
- the repeal of offences for individual sex workers not using safer sex practices
- the repeal of the small owner-operator sex work service provider register
- changes to advertising controls applicable to the sex work industry
- amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
The second stage of decriminalisation will commence on 1 December 2023. Stage 2 will:
- abolish the sex work service provider licensing system by repealing the Sex Work Act 1994
- re-enact offences relating to children and coercion in other legislation to ensure their continued operation following repeal of the Sex Work Act 1994
- change planning controls to treat sex service businesses like other businesses
- establish appropriate liquor controls for the sex work industry
- repeal brothel and escort agency provisions in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to remove specific sex work industry controls.
Further information about stage 2 and how it will impact licensees, brothel managers and exempt small owner-operators will be provided closer to the commencement date.
What laws have changed
Advertising controls for the sex work industry have changed.
Sex work advertisements can now:
- describe services offered
- be broadcast or televised
- be used to recruit for vacant positions for sex workers
- use words associated with massage services.
Advertisements are still subject to the discretion of the relevant advertising host. Relevant federal and state laws and codes also apply.
It continues to be a crime to deceptively recruit a person into sex work under the Crimes Act 1958.
The Sex Work Regulations 2016 have also been amended and many of the previous advertising controls no longer apply.
See Sex work advertising, licences and signage for more information on what has changed.
Exempt small owner-operators are no longer required to register with the BLA. Other requirements under the Sex Work Act 1994 must still be met.
Read more about Operating as a small owner-operator.
In recognition of the impending repeal of the sex work licensing system on 1 December 2023, most fees for existing licence holders will be waived or reduced.
From 1 July 2022, some fees will be reduced to zero. These fees include:
- licence fees
- annual licence fees
- extension of time fees
- further extension of time fees
- late payment fees
- late lodgement fees
- acting manager application fees.
From 1 July 2022, some fees will be reduced by 50% of their current level. From 1 July 2023, they will be reduced by 25% of their current level.
These fees include:
- licence application fees
- licence amendment fees
- brothel manager approval application fees.
Further information on fees can be found on Fees and forms.
A new attribute has been added to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The ‘profession, trade or occupation’ attribute ensures sex workers cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their work. This could look like being refused an employment opportunity or promotion because someone previously worked as a sex worker. Read more about this type of discrimination.
The Equal Opportunity Act was also amended to ensure accommodation can’t be refused to someone because they are a sex worker.
You can make a complaint
Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. You can make a complaint if you think you have experienced discrimination. If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how the Commission resolves complaints.
Changes to legislation
There have been some important changes to legislation relevant to the sex work industry.
View Legislation and regulation and Sex Work Regulations 2016 to learn more.
For more information, view our:
Please see below for links to important regulators and other support services for the sex work industry: