Fact Sheet: Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 for sex workers

The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 comes into effect in two stages: 

  • Stage 1 – the 10th of May 2022
  • Stage 2 – the 1st of December 2023

Background information: Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022

After years of advocacy and organising by sex workers, Vixen and Scarlet Alliance welcomed the passing of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 on the 22nd of February 2022. The new laws are intended to recognise that sex work is work and our bodies are our business, and will aim to treat the sex industry like any other industry in Victoria using standard business laws, not licensing and criminalisation. We have a right to feel safe at work, and the legislative recognition of sex work as work is the first step in achieving workplace health, safety and rights. 

Victoria is now the third jurisdiction in Australia, following New South Wales and the Northern Territory, to repeal licensing and criminalising laws surrounding sex work, and to introduce a  decriminalisation model. 

However, these reforms will not achieve full decriminalisation. In particular, the Act includes unjust and discriminatory laws that retain criminalisation of street-based sex work in certain places and at certain times. Sex workers in Victoria have made it clear that no sex worker should be left behind, and Vixen and Scarlet Alliance will continue to fight for full decriminalisation for all sex workers. 

What is changing and when?

The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 is a historic change for the sex industry in Victoria. It will mean different things for different sex workers. The legislation will be rolled out in two stages: the first stage of reforms come into effect from the 10th of May 2022, and the last stage of reforms come into effect by the 1st of December 2023, when we will finally see the repeal of the Sex Work Act 1994. 

Stage 1 changes for sex workers – from 10th of May 2022 

  • It will no longer be an offence for sex workers to work with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or blood borne virus (BBV). Sex workers living and working with HIV will no longer be criminalised.
  • Sex workers will not have to provide sexual health certificates and undergo mandated STI testing. We will finally be able to manage our own sexual health and safety. 
  • It will no longer be an offence to not use condoms at work. We will be able to make choices about the services we offer based on personal risk assessment.
  • Independent and private workers will no longer need a Sex Work Act (SWA) number to work and the register will no longer be in operation.
  • There will be changes to advertising: allowing sex workers to describe our services and advertise using nude images. 
  • A protected attribute of ‘profession, trade or occupation’ will be included in the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) 2010. This means that people or organisations can’t legally discriminate against people based on their work, including sex work.
  • The repeal of Section 62 of the EOA means that accommodation providers, including hotels and motels, cannot discriminate against sex workers by asking us to leave or calling the police if lawful sex work is occurring. 

Stage 2 changes for sex workers – from 1st December 2023. 

  • The licensing system will be completely phased out with the repeal of the Sex Work Act 1994.
  • Changes to planning controls – laws around working from home and changes regarding the BLA – will come into operation that will treat our work like any other business.
  • There will be an establishment of appropriate liquor controls for the sex work businesses.
  • Sex industry specific controls for brothel, escort and independent/private work in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 will be removed.

What do I need to know after May 10th 2022?

After May 10th, the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 will bring into effect several key changes for sex workers. This will mean some sex workers will have more control over how we work, advertise our services, and how we take care of our own sexual health. But until the 1st of December 2023 (Stage 2) it will still not be legal to work independently/privately from home (incalls/hosting), or to work with more than one other sex worker. Brothels are required to be licensed until Stage 2, so sex workers in unlicensed venues might still be at risk of policing. After December 2023, street based sex work will still be criminalised in certain places at certain times. We will continue to fight for reform in this space.  

  • Advertising (changes in stage 1)
  • Sexual health (changes in stage 1 and 2)
  • Street-based sex work (slight changes, not decriminalised)
  • Anti-discrimination protections (changes in stage 1)
  • Working from home/Incall (changes after stage 2)
  • Unlicensed brothel and massage parlour work (changes after stage 2)

Advertising

The first stage brings into effect the removal of laws in the Sex Work Act that covers advertising. This means that sex workers will no longer need to register for an SWA and will not need to include the SWA in advertisements. Sex workers will also be able to describe services in advertisements: what we do and don’t offer, and describe services relating to massage. We will also be able to outline any safer sex practices we employ at work and include nude photos in our advertising. 

Sexual Health

Sexual health testing and sex work certificates

After the 10th of May 2022, sex workers will no longer be required to undergo sexual health testing every 3 months, and we will not be legally required to provide sexual health certificates to workplaces. We will be given the power to determine, with the advice of healthcare professionals, how often we get tested and how we manage our own sexual health. Please refer to this fact sheet to read more about sex workers and sexual health testing or take a look at the Scarlet Alliance Red Book for more information. 

Condom use and safer sex practices

The new laws mean that after the 10th of May 2022 it won’t be an offence under the Sex Work Act 1994 for sex workers to not use condoms at work. It will still be an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act until December 2023 for business owners (including independent/private workers) to discourage condom use, fail to provide condoms, or fail to take reasonable steps to ensure condom use between workers and clients. Even after the second stage of reforms, business owners and workers will still have obligations under occupational health and safety law to create a safe workplace and minimise risks. However, sex workers have always been experts in our own sexual health and leaders in safer sex practices. We have a deep understanding of safer sex practices and we are well versed in navigating and managing our own sexual health. We have always been shown to have high rates of testing outside of government mandates, and low rates of sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses. Please refer to this fact sheet to read more about sex workers, condom use and safer sex practices or take a look at the Scarlet Alliance Red Book for more information. 

STI and BBVs 

From the 10th of May 2022 it will no longer be an offence for sex workers with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or blood borne virus (BBV), such as HIV, to work while they have an infection or virus. Treatment and management plans for sexually transmissible infections should be determined by sex workers and our doctors. We are well equipped to manage our sexual health and practice harm reduction for ourselves and our clients. Please refer to this fact sheet to read more about sex workers and STI’s and BBVs or take a look at the Scarlet Alliance Red Book for more information. 

Street based sex work 

Street based sex work is not being fully decriminalised. The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 means it’s no longer an offence to solicit, or loiter in most public places in Victoria, but from 10 May 2022, offences in the Summary Offences Act 1966 will mean that you still can’t legally work at or near places of worship, schools, children’s services and education and care services at specified times or at any time on certain days of the year (“prescribed days”). Refer to this fact sheet for more information on street based sex work.

  • It is illegal to work at or near places of worship between 6am and 7pm and at any time on prescribed days.
  • It is illegal to work at or near schools between 6am and 7pm every day
  • It is illegal to work at or near children’s services between 6am and 7pm every day
  • It is illegal to work at or near education and care services between 6am and 7pm every day

Prescribed days

Prescribed days have to apply and be relevant to the place of worship. Prescribed days have not yet been confirmed. Vixen and Scarlet Alliance are actively seeking this information, and will share this with community when we have it.

Penalties for working near a restricted place

If you are issued with an on-the-spot fine, it will usually consist of 2 penalty units, which is $363.48.

If you are charged, the penalty will depend on whether you have previously committed the same offence. It is unclear what determines a fine versus being charged.

  • For a first offence, it is a fine of 10 penalty units, which is $1,817.40, or imprisonment for 1 month.
  • For a second offence, it is a fine of 30 penalty units, $5,452.20, or imprisonment for 3 months.
  • For any subsequent offences, it is a fine of 60 penalty units, $10,904.40, or imprisonment for 6 months.

Anti-discrimination protections

From May 10 2022 a new protected attribute of ‘profession, trade or occupation’ has been introduced to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. This means that people or organisations can’t legally discriminate against people based on their work, including sex work. 

Also from May 10, accommodation providers, including hotels and motels, cannot discriminate against sex workers by asking us to leave or calling the police if lawful sex work is occurring. 

Please note that until December 2023 working from home alone or with other workers will still be criminalised. 

Independent/Private work 

Unfortunately sex workers will not be able to legally work from home until after the 1st of December 2023. Incalls from home will only be legally allowed after the 1st of December 2023, after the Sex Work Act 1994 is repealed in full. To work from home until this time, zoning and planning permit requirements still apply. Very few sex workers have been able to access or complete this process successfully. 

From May 10 until December 1 2023, independent/private workers:

  • Legally must work alone or only with one other sex worker
  • Can’t legally be associated with any other sex work business
  • Can’t legally have clients directed to you by a third party
  • Can’t legally direct clients on to another sex work business

Annual statements

If you are registered, and your annual statement was due before 10 May 2022, you must still submit your annual statement as directed by the Business Licensing Authority. If your annual statement is due on or after 10th May 2022, you do not have to submit your annual statement.

Working with multiple other sex workers

Working with more than one other sex worker is still criminalised by the Sex Work Act 1994 until it is repealed in full on the 1st of December 2023. Until this time, the current licensing laws are still in place. This means that from the 10th of May 2022, to be considered an ‘exempt’ sex worker you can still legally only work with one other sex worker.

If you work with more than one other sex worker, legally you must still apply for a sex work service provider licence from the Business Licensing Authority. Working with multiple other workers without a licence can incur significant penalties until the Sex Work Act 1994 is repealed in December 2023. 

Unlicensed brothel and massage parlour work

Owner/operators will still be required to be licensed by the Business Licensing Authority under the Sex Work Act 1994 until the Sex Work Act 1994 is repealed in December 2023. Operating a sex work business without a licence means that penalties can be incurred, and that workplaces may be monitored for compliance by Consumer Affairs Victoria or the police. This means that sex workers in unlicensed venues might still be at risk of policing.

Only after December 1st 2023, with the repeal of the Sex Work Act 1994, will the licensing system cease to exist. Please contact Vixen if you have any questions or come into contact with police, we are here to support you. 

Vixen can provide information, support, and referrals for free and confidential legal advice. 

Rights and responsibilities after May 10 2022

Sexual health – sex workers

Sex workers will no longer be required to undergo mandatory sexual health testing or provide sexual health certificates. Working with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and blood borne virus (BBV) will no longer be criminalised.  Sexual health testing options and frequency will be determined by sex workers with our health care providers based on our individual needs. Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (until December 2023) private/independent sex workers will still need to take reasonable steps to maintain the use of safer sex tools at work where appropriate. Until December 2023 private/independent sex workers are still classified as “exempt small owner-operators” under the Sex Work Act 1994 and defined as a brothel or escort agency. Please refer to this fact sheet to read more about sexual health rights and responsibility.

Sexual health – owner/operators

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (until December 2023) owners and operators will still need to provide condoms and lubricant, take reasonable steps to ensure condoms are being used when appropriate and not discourage or prevent sex workers from using condoms – including charging for or limiting the amount of condoms supplied. These provisions apply to all business owners, including under the current framework, independent or private sex workers. Please refer to this fact sheet to read more about sexual health rights and responsibility.

Sex work rights, discrimination, and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010

The new protected attribute of ‘profession, trade or occupation ’in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 will mean that we can start to set a precedent around sex worker rights. However as this is a new law we will need to work together to utilise the Act in cases when people or organisations discriminate against sex workers. Please get in touch if you need any support regarding sex worker discrimination and we can support you and assist you in accessing appropriate services. 

After May 10 2022 it will still be a crime under the Sex Work Act 1994 for people to engage in offensive behaviour towards sex workers in a public place, for example on the street. After this, sex workers will still have access to non sex work specific laws that apply to everyone. For example the Summary Offences Act 1966 and the Crimes Act 1958 contain offences relating to assault.

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Fact Sheet: Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 and changes pertaining to sexual health

The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 comes into effect in two stages: 

  • Stage 1 – the 10th of May 2022
  • Stage 2 – the 1st of December 2023

Question: Will I still need to provide a sexual health certificate and get tested every 3 months for work?

Answer: No. Mandatory testing has ended in Victoria as of May 10th 2022. This means that sex workers will no longer be legally required to get sexual health tests or provide certificates every 3 months. 

  • Clause 10 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 repeals section 20A of the Sex Work Act 1994. This means that from the 10th of May 2022 (stage 1), mandatory testing is no longer a legal requirement for sex workers, and sex workers are not legally required to provide sexual health certificates every 3 months.
  • For sex workers, our body is our business. Staying on top of routine testing and treatment – including practicing harm reduction and safer sex practices – greatly reduces our risk of catching or passing on an STI or BBV.
  • Sex workers are already experts on our own sexual health! Research has shown that mandatory testing does not work, it is costly, and it reinforces the idea that sex workers are vectors of disease. 

Question: Is working with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or blood borne virus (BBV), like HIV,  still criminalised?

Answer: No. As of the 10th of May 2022, working with a STI or BBV is no longer a criminal offence. This legislative change ends the criminalisation of HIV for sex workers in Victoria.

  • Clause 9 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 repeals sections 19 and 20 of the Sex Work Act 1994. From the 10th of May (stage 1) it will no longer be an offence for a sex worker to work with a sexually transmissible infection or blood borne virus.  This means that sex workers living and working with HIV are no longer criminalised. 
  • Criminalisation of sex work, HIV and other BBVs and STIs is based in stigma rather than evidence.  Discrimination against anyone with an STI or BBV is unacceptable and creates barriers to accessing testing and treatment. Please refer to the Red Book, a STI and BBV resource that was created by and for sex workers by Scarlet Alliance, to read more about sex workers living with HIV or any other STI or BBV.

Question: Is it still a criminal offence to not use a condom at work? 

Answer: The law changes are inconsistent, so it depends on how you work and how the law will be interpreted and enforced. From the 10th of May (stage 1) it will no longer be a criminal offence for sex workers to engage in sex services without using a condom. However, business owners, including private sex workers, are still legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure condom use until 1st December 2023 (stage 2). 

  • Clause 8 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 repeals section 18A of the Sex Work Act 1994, which once made it an offence if a sex worker or a client did not adopt safer sex practices. The new laws will come into effect from the 10th of May (stage 1) and it will no longer be a criminal offence for sex workers to engage in sex services without using a condom or other protective barrier.
  • Under decriminalisation, sex workers will be able to make choices about the services we offer based on personal risk assessment. Sex workers and business owners will still need to comply with mainstream workplace health and safety obligations.
  • Up until the 1st of December 2023 (stage 2) the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 will still be in effect. This means that while it will not be a criminal offence for sex workers, it will still be a legal requirement for brothel owners and escort agencies to take reasonable steps to ensure sex workers and clients use condoms at work. This is the same for independent/private workers.
  • Independent and private workers are currently classified as “exempt small owner-operators” under the Sex Work Act 1994 and defined as a brothel or escort agency. This means as owner-operators, independent and private workers will still be required to comply with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 up until stage 2 on the 1st of December 2023. This means that private workers are required to take reasonable steps to ensure condom use is required at work. In the case of non-compliance, the Partner Notification and Support Unit may investigate and provide education and support to understand these requirements. In rare cases, a court-ordered penalty or fine is possible.
     
  • While sex industry specific provisions in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 are in effect (up until the 1st of December 2023), it is still allowed for an authorised officer to enter a premises that they believe is a brothel or escort agency or independent/private workplace, for the purposes of monitoring compliance with, or investigating a contravention of, the Act. 

SEXUAL HEALTH INFORMATION FOR SEX WORKERS

Question: Am I at risk of catching a sexually transmissible infection (STI) or a blood borne virus (BBV)?

Answer: Anyone who is sexually active is at at risk but sex workers are the original safer sex experts and protecting ourselves from STIs and providing safer sexual services is part of the work we do. 

  • Research has consistently shown that sex workers have equal or lower rates of STI and BBVs when compared to non sex workers. This is because we practise prevention at work such as using condoms and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and routinely test and access treatment when necessary.  

Question: What are some of the STIs and BBVs I need to look out for?

Answer: Sexually Transmissible Infections or STIs include chlamydia, genital warts and HPV, herpes (cold sores), gonorrhoea, syphilis. Blood Borne Viruses or BBVs include hepatitis A, B and C and HIV. 

  • Recently there have been increased rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, so it’s important that we continue to practise prevention strategies such as using condoms and conducting client checks; maintain regular testing and access treatment when needed. 
     
  • Sex workers’ success in achieving low rates of STI and BBV transmission and high rates of sexual health testing and treatment is thanks to leadership and rapid action of sex workers. Through advocacy in the 1980’s, communities impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic quickly organised and pushed for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs to include a ‘partnership approach’, which recognised the importance of the centrality of including peer groups and affected communities as part of the strategy. This allowed for peer community based organisations to lead, design and deliver prevention and education programs when responding to HIV/AIDS.

Question: Why is routine testing and treatment important?

Answer: Because it is part of our harm reduction strategy. 

  • Testing frequency should be discussed with your doctor or nurse to determine what’s most appropriate for you individually. As a guide you can see recommended testing timeframes here.
  • Testing frequency should also be determined by the type of sex work you do, the services you offer, and potential sexual risks and symptoms. 
  • It is also important to know that not all tests are required at the same time. 

Please follow this link to find an ideal health service for you or contact Vixen to discuss.
 If you do get an STI or BBV, treatment options are available.

 If you are a sex worker living and working with a BBV or have contracted an STI, the Red Book outlines information on each STI and BBV, their related conditions and treatment options. 

Question: What safer sex tools (SSTs) should I use at work?

Answer: There are several options available, so you should choose whatever works best for you. Condoms and dental dams are some of our most effective strategies protecting us against catching a sexually transmissible infection (STI) or a blood borne virus (BBV). 

  • The most commonly used SST is the condom, as they help prevent the exchange of body fluids during sex. Condoms can slip off or break, so it is important to use a condom that fits the penis correctly and if possible, check during the session that it is still on. To minimise condom breakage it is best to use water based lubricant and/or silicone-based lubricant. Using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms can damage them and make them break. If the condom does slip off or break, talk to your local sexual health clinic about accessing treatment or getting a sexual health test. You can access this guide on what to do if a condom breaks here
  • Some sex workers also like to use internal condoms (female condoms or Femidoms) and they work just like a regular condom but are worn internally. Again, these require plenty of lube on the inside of the internal condom to prevent breakage. 
  • Dental dams are rectangular sheets of latex that are super thin and can often be flavoured. They are used for vaginal, anal and oral protection and are used by stretching the dam over the genital area and holding it in place. 

Please remember that there are many ways to manage risk and depending on how you work it might not involve any of the SSTs mentioned above. If you conduct or find yourself doing ‘natural’ or unprotected services, there are ways to reduce risk, please follow this link.

Question: What’s a ‘health check’ and how do I do one at work? 

Answer: This can look different depending on where and how you work, but in short it involves checking a client’s genital areas, including the bum and also mouth, to make sure there are no visible signs of STIs. 

  • When at work, the ‘health check’ can be an important part of your harm reduction strategy. For example, checking for broken skin, sores, ulcers or ‘abnormal’ discharge.
     
  • In some brothel settings, management might show you how to conduct a health check or you might learn from other workers. You might also teach yourself on the job or you can contact Vixen [link]. The Red Book is an extensive peer resource that outlines where to look, visual examples of what to look for, and how to milk a penis. 
  • There are many ways to still work if you suspect a client has an STI (you don’t need to cancel the booking). For example, offering an alternate service like a ‘show’ or a hand job. Refer to the Red Book for more ideas. 

You may want to consider a plan of action if you think a client has an STI. For example, in brothel or massage parlour work, you might need to think about the potential of a trusted co-worker conducting a second inspection, and whether management will support you if you want to cancel or change the booking. 

Question: What’s PrEP and PEP and am I eligible for use?

Answer: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) are antiretroviral drugs used by HIV-negative people to greatly reduce the risk of getting HIV upon exposure. PEP is for HIV-negative people who have potentially been exposed to HIV. Being exposed to HIV in a sex work setting is not grounds alone for being prescribed PEP. The doctor or nurse will make an assessment of whether you should be prescribed PEP. For more information on PrEP and PEPcheck the Scarlet Alliance Red Book.

  • HIV prevention has come a long way and can be prevented with the correct use of both Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). 
  • PrEP is taken before any potential exposure to HIV and is taken on demand (currently only recommended for cis men who have sex with men)  or  on a daily, ongoing basis. 
  • The daily use of PrEP is recommended as an effective HIV prevention strategy for all people who are at risk of HIV acquisition, for example men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, heterosexual people, and people who inject drugs who are at risk of HIV. 
  • PEP is a short course of HIV medication that, if taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV, can significantly reduce the chance of getting HIV. 

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Fact Sheet for street based sex workers

The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act comes into effect in two stages: 

  • Stage 1 – the 10th of May 2022
  • Stage 2 – the 1st of December 2023

Background information: Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022

After years of advocacy by sex workers, Vixen and Scarlet Alliance welcomed the passing of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 on the 22nd of February 2022. These new laws recognise that sex work is work and our bodies are our business, and will aim to treat the sex industry like any other industry in Victoria using standard business laws, not licensing and criminalisation. We have a right to feel safe at work, and the legislative recognition of sex work as work is the first step in achieving workplace health, safety and rights. 

Victoria is now the third jurisdiction in Australia, following New South Wales and the Northern Territory, to repeal licensing and criminalising laws surrounding sex work, and to introduce a  decriminalisation model. 

However, the Act does not go far enough, and street-based sex workers will continue to be subject to unjust and discriminatory laws. Sex workers in Victoria have made it clear that no sex worker should be left behind, and Vixen and Scarlet Alliance will continue to fight for full decriminalisation for all sex workers. 

What is changing for street based sex workers after May 10 2022?

Street based sex work is not being fully decriminalised. The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 means it’s no longer an offence to solicit or loiter with the intent to solicit in most public places in Victoria, but from 10 May 2022, offences in the Summary Offences Act 1966 will mean that you still can’t legally work at or near places of worship, schools, children’s services and education and care services at specified times or at any time on certain days of the year (“prescribed days”).

  • You can’t legally work at or near places of worship between 6am and 7pm and at any time on prescribed days. This applies regardless of whether the place of worship is open.
  • You can’t legally work at or near schools (government and non-government) between 6am and 7pm every day. This applies every day, regardless of whether the school is open.
  • You can’t legally work at or near children’s services between 6am and 7pm every day. This applies every day, regardless of whether the service is open.
  • You can’t legally work at or near education and care services between 6am and 7pm every day. This applies every day, regardless of whether the service is open. [link to definitions below here]

Offences under the Summary Offences Act such as charges related to sexual conduct in public spaces and/ or exposure in public places continue to apply.

What are the prescribed days?

A prescribed day, for example Christmas Day, will only apply to places of worship that celebrate that holiday.

The prescribed days are:

  • Yom Kippur
  • Hanukkah 
  • Ramadan 
  • Eid al-Fitr
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Saturday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Orthodox Good Friday
  • Orthodox Easter Saturday
  • Orthodox Easter Sunday

What are the penalties for working at or near a restricted place?

Victoria Police can issue you with an on-the-spot fine. This will be at the discretion of the police. The penalty is a fine of 2 penalty units, which is $363.48. If you are charged, which again will be at the discretion of the police, the penalty will depend on whether you have previously committed the same offence. 

  • For a first offence, it is a fine of 10 penalty units, which is $1,817.40, or imprisonment for 1 month.
  • For a second offence, it is a fine of 30 penalty units, $5,452.20, or imprisonment for 3 months.
  • For any subsequent offences, it is a fine of 60  penalty units, $10,904.40,  or imprisonment for 6 months.

Although the provisions against working near restricted places in the Sex Work Act 1994 were repealed, the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 reinstates similar restrictions on working at or near restricted places in the Summary Offences Act 1966. Therefore it is unclear if previous charges under the Sex Work Act 1994 will be counted as a previous offence if charged under the new laws. It is also unclear what determines a fine versus being charged.

We will keep street based sex workers in the loop as we find out more information. If you are fined or charged or have contact with police, please let Vixen know and we will do our best to support you. Vixen can also refer you to free and confidential legal advice. 

Children’s service premises, education and care service premises defined

Children’s service premises and education and care service premises include:

  • preschools and kindergartens
  • long day care services
  • outside school hours care services
  • school holiday care programs
  • occasional care services (for example, a neighbourhood house or community centre)
  • limited hours services (for example, a creche inside a gym or leisure centre)
  • early childhood intervention services (for example, for children with a disability).

Some types of services are excluded for the purposes of the street-based sex work offence. This includes a family day care service operating from a residence and care by personal arrangement (for example, babysitting in a private home).

Your rights

After May 10, 2022 it will still be a crime under the Sex Work Act 1994 for people to engage in offensive behaviour towards sex workers in a public place. After this, sex workers will still have access to non sex work specific laws that apply to everyone. For example the Summary Offences Act 1966 and the Crimes Act 1958 contain offences relating to assault.


From May 10 a new protected attribute of ‘profession, trade or occupation’ has been introduced to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. This means that people or organisations can’t legally discriminate against people based on their work, including sex work. 

Also from May 10, accommodation providers, including hotels and motels, cannot discriminate against sex workers by asking us to leave or calling the police if lawful sex work is occurring. Until December 2023 working from home alone or with other workers will still be criminalised. 

If you experience discrimination or a crime committed against you, please contact Vixen for support and information. Vixen can also refer you to free and confidential legal advice.

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