Promoting the safety of sex workers is a focus of the Sex Work Act 1994 and Sex Work Regulations 2016. The Sex Work Act aims to:
- protect sex workers and their clients from health risks
- protect sex workers from violence and exploitation
- promote the welfare and occupational health and safety (OHS) of sex workers.
Obligations for licensees and managers
You must comply with:
- the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, which requires you to provide a safe working environment, free from violence and intimidation and without risk to health for employees, sub-contractors and clients. This may include:
- allowing a sex worker to stop working if they feel unsafe
- ensuring brothel rooms have working concealed alarms or communication devices accessible to sex workers throughout the provision of sexual services
- providing safety systems for escort workers
- displaying safe sex posters. These posters should be displayed where clients can see them in reception and each room used for sex work. They can be in languages other than English if appropriate
- providing well-lit rooms so sex workers can check clients for STIs.
- the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, which includes:
- providing free condoms and water-based lubricant that are easily accessible to sex workers and clients
- storing unused condoms in a manner that does not cause deterioration
- disposing of unused condoms at their expiry date
- ensuring that used condoms are stored in sealed containers before they are removed from the premises
- providing clean linen and towels
- ensuring condoms are used during vaginal, oral or anal penetration between a sex worker and client
- providing easily accessible written information about sexually transmissible infections in all appropriate languages.
You should make all your sex workers and staff aware of these requirements.
Escort agencies and communications
Escort workers working alone or in an unfamiliar environment face greater risks to health and safety through unpredictable client behaviour.
If you run an escort agency, meeting your OHS obligations may include communication and safety practices such as:
- maintaining regular contact with your sex workers to confirm their arrival and departure for each visit
- providing them with a working mobile phone so they can be contacted
- helping them as soon as they report a potentially violent or unsafe situation.
Sex workers are at risk of sexual assault. This includes sexual activity that a person has not consented to, and can include actions that make the victim feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened.
You must call 000 immediately if a sex worker makes a sexual assault complaint.