Decriminalising sex work in Victoria

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On 22 February 2022 the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 was passed by the Victorian Parliament and has become law. 

Decriminalisation makes consensual sex work legal in most locations across Victoria.  

It is now regulated just like any other industry by agencies such as WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Health. This ensures 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 has been decriminalised. Criminal offences to protect children and workers from coercion and address other forms of non-consensual sex work continue to be enforced by state and federal law enforcement agencies.  

Timeline of reforms  

Decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria is occurred in two stages: 

Stage 1 

Stage 1 commenced on 10 May 2022 and included:  

  • 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. 

Stage 2 

The second stage of decriminalisation commenced on 1 December 2023 and included: 

  • abolishing the sex work service provider licensing system by repealing the Sex Work Act 1994 
  • re-enacting offences relating to children and coercion in other legislation to ensure their continued operation following repeal of the Sex Work Act 1994 
  • changes to planning controls to treat sex service businesses like other businesses 
  • the establishment of appropriate liquor controls for the sex work industry 
  • repeal of brothel and escort agency provisions in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to remove specific sex work industry controls. 

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 repealed and many of the previous advertising controls no longer apply.

Sex work businesses and sex workers can now:

  • advertise using partial or full body images
  • refer to any diagnostic procedures or medical testing undertaken by sex workers
  • use nude images in internet advertisements
  • publish adverts larger than 18 centimetres by 13 centimetres in a newspaper or other publication. 

Registration and licensing

The registration and licensing system has been abolished. This means that independent sex workers, small owner-operators and sex work businesses such as brothels or escort agencies, are no longer required to register or obtain a licence or pay any fees to operate. Brothel managers and other people working in sex work businesses are also no longer required to obtain a licence, certificate or other government check to work in the sex work industry.

Anti-discrimination protections  

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.

Go to Legislation and regulation to learn more.

More information

For more information, go to Sex work decriminalisation resources.

Please see below for links to important regulators and other support services for the sex work industry: