Prostitution in Australia

Prostitution in Australia is governed by state laws, which vary considerably. Street prostitution is illegal in all states of Australia except NSW where it is prohibited near churches, schools, hospitals and similar venues. In addition to the summaries provided below, brothels are often regulated by local council planning laws.


In Queensland, brothel licenses are provided by the Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA), as part of the Prostitution Act 1999.

There are two types of legal prostitution work in Queensland:

Street prostitution, unlicensed brothels or massage parlors used for prostitution, are strictly prohibited in Queensland.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, under the Summary Offences Act 1988 the only activities that are illegal are:

Western Australia

In Western Australia an informally established arrangement between police and brothel operators, the "containment policy", allows brothels to operate under the sanction of police. A Bill to regulate brothels and prostitution was defeated in 2003.


In Victoria, the Prostitution Control Act 1994 creates a dual licensing system for six room brothels, although a number of larger brothels, existing before the Act was passed, were automatically given licences and continue to operate. Small owner-operated brothels can operate legally, private escort workers must be registered and escorts from brothels are permitted.

The Act legalises and regulates the operations of brothels and escort agencies. The operator of each type of business must hold a license. The difference between the two is that in the case of a brothel clients come to the place of business, which is subject to local council planning controls. In the case of an escort agency, clients phone the agency and arrange for a sex worker to come to their homes or motels.

If only one or two prostitutes are running a brothel or escort agency, which does not employ other prostitutes, they do not need a licence.

Street prostitution continues to be illegal and a a big issue, though it affects predominantly the Carlisle Street end of St Kilda.

One of the objective of the Act was to eliminate the criminal connection to the operations of illegal brothels. The success of this objective appears to be in question.


In Tasmania, the Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 states that a person must not be a commercial operator of a sexual services business- that is, "someone who is not a self-employed sex worker and who, whether alone or with another person, operates, owns, manages or is in day-to-day control of a sexual services business". This law explicitly outlines that it is illegal to assault a sex worker, to receive commercial sexual services, or provide or receive sexual services unless a prophylactic is used.

South Australia

South Australia's Police minister introduced a number of Bills in 1999, aiming to revise and legalise prostitution. The Bills were passed collectively in the House of Assembly as the Prostitution (Regulation) Bill 2000, but were defeated by the Legislative Council the following year. Prostitution in South Australia continues to be governed by the Summary Offences Act 1953 and Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935. The current government will not revisit the debate.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, under the Prostitution Regulation Act, the Northern Territory Licensing Commission can license Northern Territory residents for a licence to operate an escort agency business- brothels are illegal, street work is illegal, while sole operators are legal and un-regulated.

See also

External links

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