Sex work advertising, licences and signage

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Sex work is being decriminalised in Victoria. 

As part of decriminalisation, the advertising controls for the sex work industry changed on 10 May 2022.  

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. 

The Sex Work Regulations 2016 have also been amended and many of the previous advertising controls no longer apply.  

Sex work businesses and sex workers can now:  

  • publish advertisements without including their licensee or exempt registration number 
  • 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.  

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.  

Licences and registration

Your current licence must be displayed near the entrance so it is easily visible to clients.

If you operate a brothel without a licence, in breach of a licence condition or while your licence is suspended, you risk a fine, jail or both.

Inspectors can demand to be shown the licensee or approved manager’s current licence or certificate of approval. Penalties apply for failing to provide this licence on request.

Sexual slavery signage

Sexual slavery is a serious crime. You can face a jail term if convicted of sexual slavery.

Sexual slavery is:

  • threatening
  • unlawfully detaining
  • engaging in fraud or misrepresentation, including by omissions, or
  • imposing debt upon someone, with the purpose of them providing commercial sexual services.

You must display prescribed sexual slavery signage in your premises.

The sign must be displayed in a conspicuous place in:

  • the reception area of the brothel, and
  • each room of the brothel where sex work takes place.

The sign is in English and includes translations in Chinese (both traditional and simplified), Korean, Russian and Thai. It must be clearly visible and legible.

The sign must have black print on a white background with font size no smaller than 12 point. Consumer Affairs Victoria can provide you with A3 sized signs.

Failure to display the sign is an offence under section 60A of the Sex Work Act 1994 and may lead to a penalty of 10 penalty units. For more information, view Penalties.

Download a copy of the Sexual slavery sign (Word, 74KB).

Safer sex signage

Safer sex signage, depicting an adult male wearing a condom, will help you meet your OHS obligations as it promotes safe sex practices. It should be visible to clients in the reception area and every room used for sex work.

You can get safer sex signs that comply with this legal requirement from the Inner South Community Health Service Resourcing Health and Education (RhED) program.