Consumer Affairs Victoria and Victoria Police work closely with the Australian Federal Police and the DIBP to investigate potential people trafficking in the sex work industry. The Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police monitor other potential offences, including deceptive recruiting for sex work, which carries a maximum sentence of five years’ jail.

WorkSafe Victoria


WorkSafe Victoria inspectors can enter your brothel or escort agency during working hours, or at any time when they have formed a reasonable belief of an immediate risk to anyone, to assess and enforce compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

See also the chapter Occupational health and safety, from page 15.

For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Health and hygiene

Sexual health

Safer sex


Safer sex is the best way for sex workers and clients to reduce the risk of sexually transmissible infections (STIs). You must ensure sex workers and clients follow safer sex practices, and provide workers with information to help them identify STIs.

For more information, visit the Disease information and advice section of the Victorian Government's Health website and the Better Health Channel website .

Authorised officers from the Department of Health & Human Services can also help by giving you information and advice in relation to safer sex and STIs.

Using, storing and disposing of condoms


By law, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that clients and sex workers use condoms in any sexual encounter involving vaginal, oral or anal penetration, regardless of how penetration is achieved. This means condoms must be fitted to sex toys if they are used.

You must:



You must:

Failure to do any of the above is an offence under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (PHWA) and may result in a large fine.

Informing sex workers and clients about STIs


You must ensure that information about STIs is always available in the reception area.

This information must be:



Visit the Disease information and advice section of the Victorian Government's Health website for more information on STIs.

Sex workers must not work in a brothel or for an escort agency if they have any of these STIs:


Sex worker health checks


It is against the law for a sex worker to work if they know they have a sexually transmissible infection (STI).

You could be fined if you allow a sex worker to work when you know they have an STI.

Even if you did not know the worker had an STI, a court will assume you did, unless you can prove you believed the worker was tested for STIs every three months.

You could prove this by recording in a register when workers are tested.

A sex worker’s medical documents are confidential. It is illegal to display these records in public, or to lead a client to believe that a sex worker is free from an STI.

Refusal of service


A sex worker can refuse to provide a service to a client if they suspect the client is infected with an STI or the client has refused to use a condom. You must not require the sex worker to provide the service. To do so is a serious offence that may result in a heavy penalty.

Cleaning and infection control


Cleaning and infection control is an important part of your business. Department of Health & Human Services officers will inspect each brothel at least once a year.

Routine brothel maintenance


We recommend that you arrange for all brothel staff to be trained in effective cleaning and infection control. Your brothel must have clear guidelines on who is responsible for cleaning up potentially infectious waste, when it needs to be done and who can give advice if you need help.

You must arrange cleaning of all:


Linen and laundry


You must provide clean linen and towels for each client.

Sex workers can clean bathrooms that they or a client have just used, make beds and place clean towels in the rooms they work in, as part of their general duties, but they are not required to do laundry duties. As licensee, you must make laundry arrangements.

We recommend that you tell sex workers when you first hire them that these general duties will form part of their role.

Swimming pools and spas


Spas and swimming pools must be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent illness and infection. Spas should be de-greased after each use, so they remain clean and hygienic.

For more information, visit the Victorian Government's Health website and search for:


Storing and disposing of waste


You must have easy-to-follow procedures for storing and disposing of all waste at your brothel or escort agency.

Clinical (infectious) waste must be disposed of according to Environment Protection Authority guidelines . This includes used condoms, syringes, needles and bodily fluids such as blood.

For more information, visit the Environment Protection Authority Victoria website and search for:


Safety tips:

Bathroom facilities


The nature of a sex worker’s job means that personal cleanliness for themselves and their clients is very important.

You must provide baths or showers with a continuous and adequate supply of hot and cold water for clients and sex workers. These facilities must be disinfected after each use. When using disinfectants, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

You must check every basin, bath and shower at the start of each day.

Occupational health and safety


Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), you must provide and maintain a safe environment for sex workers, office staff and contractors, as well as members of the public such as clients and visitors. You must obey OHS laws whether you have employees, independent contractors, freelance or casual staff.

Responsibilities of sex workers and staff


Employees, self-employed sex workers and people who manage or control workplaces all have responsibilities for occupational health and safety. They must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of others. They must not act in a way that negatively affects the health, safety or welfare of other people working in or for the brothel or escort agency.

Staff must cooperate with you in any action you take to make the workplace safe.

When your business provides policies, procedures, training and equipment, including any personal protective equipment, all staff must:

What to do if a worker is injured


If an incident caused or could have caused serious injury or death, you must:

You must display an ‘If you are injured at work’ poster in your workplace where all workers can read it. If you don’t, you could be fined. To download these posters go to the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

You must record all work-related injuries and illnesses in a register of injuries. The register must be easily accessible at all reasonable times, to your workers or anyone acting on their behalf.

For more information visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:


Incident notification


WorkSafe Victoria must be notified about any serious incidents and dangerous occurrences in the workplace. These notifiable incidents include deaths, illness or injury requiring immediate treatment as an in-patient in hospital, as well as certain injuries requiring immediate medical treatment such as serious head and eye injuries, electric shock and serious cuts.

If a notifiable incident happens in your brothel or escort agency, you must:



To contact the WorkSafe Victoria Incident Notification Unit call 132 360 and for more information visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Avoiding occupational hazards


The following information will help you meet your health and safety obligations under the OHS Act. These obligations include:

There are also OHS regulations covering various occupational hazards that apply to most brothels and escort agencies. You must comply with the regulations to meet your obligations under the OHS Act. For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Communication with workers


If your business is an escort agency (or includes one), meeting your OHS obligations may include communication and safety practices such as:

For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Refusal of service


You can help meet your OHS obligations by:

These safety practices will also help you meet your obligations under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. For more information, see Refusal of service on page 13.

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. To obtain this sign, email the Inner South Community Health Service RhED program or call them on (03) 9534 8166.

Alarms


You can help meet your OHS obligations by ensuring all rooms used for sex work have a concealed alarm button, or equivalent communication device, that is working and easily accessible to a sex worker throughout the delivery of sexual services.

You should test alarms and check they can be easily accessed by workers during the delivery of services. The approved manager on duty must know where the alarms in each room are located


Lighting


You can help meet your OHS obligations by ensuring all rooms used for sex work have sufficient lighting to enable sex workers to check for signs of STIs and for general workplace requirements. You should check each of the sex work rooms to ensure adequate lighting.

Cleaning


You can help ensure you are meeting your OHS obligations by providing proper cleaning equipment, including gloves and appropriate footwear, for sex workers who also undertake cleaning duties.

Slips, trips and falls


Slips, trips and falls often happen in workplaces and can have very serious consequences. They can cause a range of injuries, but many falls are easily prevented.

Most solutions cost very little to put in place, such as good housekeeping, clean surfaces, hand rails for stairs and non-slip mats. You must ensure your premises are as safe as possible for your workers and visitors. Watch out for:



For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Workplace violence and bullying


Workplace violence is any incident where a worker is physically attacked or threatened in the workplace, such as:

Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed toward an employee, or group of employees, which creates a risk to health and safety, such as:

You must:

You are responsible for addressing any violence or bullying at your brothel or escort agency. If a sex worker or staff member feels victimised, they should report it you in the first instance and you should address the issue. They can also contact WorkSafe Victoria.

For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:


Fatigue and work hours


Fatigue is an ongoing state of tiredness that leads to mental or physical exhaustion. It prevents people from functioning within normal boundaries.

You are responsible for providing a system of work that allows all workers sufficient rest and recovery. This includes rest and recovery between shifts where a shift system is in place.

WorkSafe Victoria has a policy under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 that covers fatigue in the workplace, including excessive work hours with few or no breaks.

Some of the work-related causes of fatigue are:



For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Consultation


You must consult with any elected health and safety representatives, and staff who are likely to be directly affected, when you are:

Issue resolution


If a health and safety issue arises, you and the workers must try to resolve it together.

As licensee, you are always responsible for health and safety at the brothel. You cannot delegate this responsibility to your approved manager.

You can choose to resolve workplace issues yourself, or you can nominate an appropriate person to represent you, such as your approved manager. If resolution cannot be reached in a reasonable time, any of the parties involved can ask a WorkSafe Victoria inspector to attend.

If you do not have an agreed procedure on how to resolve such issues, you must use the procedure in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

For more information, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Penalties


Penalties for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 are very high, and can be more than $1 million for companies and more than $200,000 for individuals.

Injury insurance


Employers who in any financial year expect to pay employees more than $7,500, must have a WorkSafe Insurance Policy. ‘Workers’ are not just staff you employ directly but may also include contractors who work at your workplace.

This policy gives employers insurance cover for workers who suffer injury or illness through their employment and are entitled to compensation in accordance with Victorian workers’ compensation laws. Compensation may include, weekly payments to replace lost income, medical and rehabilitation treatment costs and impairment benefits. If a worker suffers a ‘serious injury’, they may also be entitled to damages for pain and suffering or economic loss.


Workers’ compensation claims


If you receive a claim for workers’ compensation, you should contact your WorkSafe Victoria agent. WorkSafe Victoria agents are authorised to manage Victorian workers’ compensation claims. You can also contact WorkSafe Victoria for information and advice on (03) 9641 1444 or visit the WorkSafe Victoria website and search for:

Workplace relations

Staff pay and conditions


You must ensure clerical workers, such as receptionists and brothel managers, are getting fair pay and conditions. Even if clerical staff spend some time doing other duties that are not clerical in nature, most clerical employees are covered by the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 (the Clerks Award). The guide is available on the Pay guides page of the Fair Word Ombudsman website . They are also covered
by the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Fair Work Regulations 2009.

For more information visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website .


Discrimination in sex work


The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 prohibits a person or organisation from discriminating or harassing another person in the workplace, or in the provision of services. For brothel owners and managers, this also means protecting sex workers from discriminatory or harassing behaviour from clients, other sex workers and management.

Discrimination is banned on grounds including:



Discrimination and harassment can come in the form of violence or bullying.

If a sex worker or client believes that you have discriminated against them based on any of these grounds, they may lodge a complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

For more information, contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on 1300 292 153, or visit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website .

Useful contacts

Advocacy and support services for sex workers

Inner South Community Health Service

Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry (RhED) Program

10 Inkerman Street
St Kilda VIC 3182

(03) 9534 8166 or 1800 458 752

Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry (RhED) Program website Email Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry (RhED) Program

Project Respect


PO Box 1323
Collingwood VIC 3066

(03) 9416 3401

Project Respect website

Scarlet Alliance


Scarlet Alliance website Email Scarlet Alliance

Vixen


Vixen Collective website Email Vixen Collective Melbourne

Health services

Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic


580 Swanston Street
Carlton VIC 3063

(03) 9341 6200 or 1800 032 017

HIV Clinic – (03) 9341 6214 for HIV infected people only Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic website

Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health


Suite 207, Level 2
Carringbush Building
134 Cambridge Street
Collingwood VIC 3066

(03) 9418 0999

Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health website Email Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health

Multicultural Health and Support Service


23 Lennox Street
Richmond VIC 3121

(03) 9418 9929

Multicultural Health and Support Service website Email Multicultural Health and Support Service

Nurse-On-Call


This service provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

1300 606 024

Nurse-On-Call website (Department of Health & Human Services)

Victorian AIDS Council


Peter Knight Centre
6 Claremont Street
South Yarra VIC 3141

(03) 9865 6700 or 1800 134 840

Victorian AIDS Council website Email Victorian AIDS Council

Legal services

Law Institute of Victoria Referral Service


(03) 9607 9550 Law Institute of Victoria Referral Service website

St Kilda Legal Service Co-op Ltd


St Kilda Community Centre
61 Chapel Street
St Kilda VIC 3182

(03) 9534 0777

Email St Kilda Legal Service Co-op Ltd

St Kilda Legal Service Co-op guide:


Legal issues for professionals in the sex industry

Government agencies and associated bodies

Australian Federal Police


(03) 9607 7777 Australian Federal Police website

Australian Taxation Office


13 28 61 Australian Taxation Office website

Business Licensing Authority


1300 135 452 Business Licensing Authority website

Department of Health and Human Services


1300 253 942 Victorian Government Health website

Department of Immigration and Border Protection


131 881 Department of Immigration and Border Protection website

Environment Protection Authority Victoria


GPO Box 4395
Melbourne VIC 3001

1300 372 842

Environment Protection Authority Victoria website Email Environment Protection Authority Victoria

Municipal Association of Victoria


Level 12, 60 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

(03) 9667 5555

Municipal Association of Victoria website Email Municipal Association of Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria


(03) 9641 1444 or 1800 136 089 WorkSafe Victoria website Email WorkSafe Victoria

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission


Level 3, 380 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

1300 891 848

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website Email Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Victoria Police


000 (Emergency)
Local Police (Non emergency)

Victoria Police website
Sex Industry Coordination Unit (SICU)

(03) 9628 7000
Crime Stoppers – confidential crime reporting

Crime Stoppers website

1800 333 000


Sexual Crimes Squad

(03) 9611 8755
Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT)

(03) 9247 5538

Consumer Affairs Victoria


Consumer Affairs Victoria website

1300 55 81 81 (local call charge)

Services from Consumer Affairs Victoria are available at Ballarat, Bendigo, Box Hill, Dandenong, Geelong, Mildura, Morwell, Reservoir, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Werribee and Wodonga. Our mobile service regularly visits rural communities.

September 2017


TIS


Translating and Interpreting Service

131

450


TTY


Textphone or modem users only, ring the National Relay Service (NRS) on

 133 677

, then quote

1300

55 81 81

.

Callers who use Speech to Speech Relay dial

1300

555 727

, then quote 

1300 55

81 81

.



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Operating a licensed sex work business: Guide for licensees and approved managers

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Operating a licensed sex work business: Guide for licensees and approved managers

Operating a licensed sex work business:
Guide for licensees and approved managers

Contents


Contents 1

Disclaimer 2

Additional copies 2

Introduction 3

Who is this guide for? 3

What is Consumer Affairs Victoria? 3

Sex work service provider’s licence 4

Sex work service provider’s licence 4

Having business partners 4

Employing brothel managers 4

Controlling the business 4

Lodging your annual fee and statement 5

Informing the BLA of changes 5

Conditions on your licence 6

Surrendering your licence 6

Photo identity cards 6

Inspections and regulation 6

Inspections and regulation 6

Sex workers 7

Brothel receptions and common areas 8

Inspections by other agencies 9

Health and hygiene 11

Sexual health 11

Cleaning and infection control 13

Occupational health and safety 15

Responsibilities of sex workers and staff 15

What to do if a worker is injured 15

Incident notification 16

Avoiding occupational hazards 16

Consultation 19

Issue resolution 20

Penalties 20

Injury insurance 20

Workers’ compensation claims 20

Workplace relations 21

Staff pay and conditions 21

Discrimination in sex work 21

Useful contacts 22

Advocacy and support services for sex workers 22

Health services 22

Legal services 23

Government agencies and associated bodies 24

Consumer Affairs Victoria 26

TIS 26


TTY 26

Disclaimer


Because this publication avoids the use of legal language, information about the law may have been expressed in general statements. This guide should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal advice or reference to the actual legislation, specifically the Sex Work Act 1994 and Sex Work Regulations 2016.

Authorised and published by the


Victorian Government,
1 Treasury Place, Melbourne

September 2017

ISBN: 978-1-921-921079-62-7

Unless indicated otherwise, content in this publication is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit the Creative Commons Australia website . It is a condition of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence that you must give credit to the original author who is the State of Victoria.

If you would like to receive this publication in an accessible format please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website or ring 1300 55 81 81.

Additional copies


This guide is available from the Forms and publications page on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website or by phoning 1300 55 81 81.

Introduction

Who is this guide for?


Consumer Affairs Victoria has published this guide for licensees and approved managers of brothels and escort agencies. The information it contains is also relevant to sex workers.

It is designed to help you:



  • comply with your legal obligations

  • understand how the sex work industry is regulated

  • conduct and manage your business legally and avoid penalties

  • create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for you, your staff and your clients.

Note: This guide is not a substitute for legal advice, but it will help you identify the legal issues relevant to your business.

We welcome feedback about this guide. Email comments to sexwork@justice.vic.gov.au.


What is Consumer Affairs Victoria?


Consumer Affairs Victoria is a Victorian government agency that is part of the Department of Justice & Regulation. We regulate the legal sex industry through the Sex Work Act 1994 and the Sex Work Regulations 2016. Our role is to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Act and Regulations and includes inspecting legal brothels and escort agencies.

Victoria Police is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of illegal sex work.

Reducing harm is a key goal of the Sex Work Act 1994, which aims to:


  • protect children from sexual exploitation and coercion

  • protect sex workers and clients from health risks

  • protect sex workers from violence and exploitation

  • ensure criminals are not involved in the sex work industry

  • ensure brothels are not located in residential areas, or in areas frequented by children

  • ensure no one has multiple interests in brothel licences or permits

  • ensure brothels are accessible to inspectors, police, health workers and other social service providers

  • promote the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers

  • reduce the impact of sex work-related activities on the community.

We work with other agencies, including the Business Licensing Authority (BLA), Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, WorkSafe Victoria, Department of Health & Human Services and local councils, to regulate the industry.

Sex work service provider’s licence

Sex work service provider’s licence


Anyone who wants to operate a sex work service provider business in Victoria must be licensed by the BLA.

A sex work service provider’s licence can be for a brothel, or an escort agency, or both.

A licensee must not operate, or have an interest in, more than one brothel at a time.

Sex workers who work alone or with one other person may be exempt from the licence requirement, but must register with the BLA. These small owner-operators can work either as an escort, or at premises with a current brothel planning permit.


Having business partners


A licensee can have a business partner, but that person must also have a valid sex work service provider’s licence, issued by the BLA.

Employing brothel managers


A manager is a person authorised to personally supervise a brothel. He or she must first be approved by the BLA.

A brothel must be personally supervised whenever it is open for business, either by the licensee or an approved manager. This means being on the premises at all times. Both the licensee and the approved manager face a substantial fine or jail term for breach of these laws.


Controlling the business


Even if you have brothel managers, as licensee, you must be in effective control of the brothel business, by:

  • being regularly and usually in charge

  • giving regular and substantial attendance

  • controlling and supervising approved managers

  • taking reasonable steps to ensure the business complies with the Sex Work Act 1994 and other relevant laws.

If a brothel is operated by more than one licensee, at least one licensee must be nominated, in writing to the BLA, using the form provided on our website, as the licensee in effective control. You can obtain this form from the Fees and forms – sex work service providers page of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. .

If a licensee in effective control is going to be away from the business for:



  • more than seven days but less than 30 days, they must notify the BLA and nominate a brothel manager or another licensee to be in effective control during this period.

  • more than 30 days, they must apply in writing to the BLA, using the form provided on our website, to obtain approval for another licensee or brothel manager to be in effective control of the brothel. You can obtain this form from the Fees and forms – sex work service providers page of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website .

Lodging your annual fee and statement


As licensee, you must lodge an annual statement and pay the annual licence fee by the anniversary of when your licence was issued. The statement will be sent to you six weeks before it is due. You are required to complete and return your printed annual statement form within the six weeks prior to your licence anniversary date.

If the BLA has not received your annual statement and fee by your anniversary date, you will be sent a late notice and will have to pay an additional late fee. If after 21 days your annual statement has not been received and the fees have not been paid, your licence will be automatically cancelled and you must cease trading immediately.


Informing the BLA of changes


You can update any of your licence details at any time by emailing the Business Licensing Authority . In particular, you must notify the BLA within 10 days of any changes to:

  • business name(s) and/or telephone number(s)

  • brothel managers commencing and/or ceasing

  • your associates, including a new landlord or business partner

  • your contact details, including personal addresses or email

  • planning permission for your brothel premises such as the number of rooms used for sex work

  • your intention to cease trading as a sex work service provider.

You must also notify the BLA in writing if you:

  • fail to lodge an annual statement and pay an annual licence fee by the date required

  • serve a prison sentence in Victoria or elsewhere

  • become insolvent under administration

  • become a represented person within the meaning of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986

  • have exhausted your rights to appeal after being convicted or found guilty of:

  • an offence under s42 of the Sex Work Act 1994, namely of not being in effective control

  • an offence under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981

  • an offence set out in schedule 3 of the Sex Work Act 1994; including various offences under the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth) or Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth) or the Criminal Code 1995 (Commonwealth)

  • an indictable offence punishable by jail for 12 months or more or of a similar interstate offence

  • an offence under s45(1) of the Sex Work Act 1994, namely giving false or misleading information in relation to an application for a licence or annual statement.

Your licence will be automatically cancelled in these circumstances.

If your licence is cancelled, you must return the licence certificate to the BLA within seven days, or risk a fine.


Conditions on your licence


The BLA can impose conditions or restrictions on your licence at any time. If you fail to comply with a condition on your licence, you have committed an offence and the BLA may refer the breach to Consumer Affairs Victoria or Victoria Police for investigation. A serious breach can lead to further conditions, a disciplinary inquiry, criminal prosecution, or suspension or cancellation of your licence.

The BLA will place a condition on a brothel and/or escort agency licence that only permits the licensee to operate from a particular premises. If you want to operate a brothel or escort agency from different premises, you must apply to the BLA to change the condition on your licence to include a different address.


Surrendering your licence


If your licence is suspended or cancelled, you must return the licence certificate to the BLA within seven days or risk a fine.

Photo identity cards


The BLA issues photo identity (ID) cards to all licensees and approved brothel managers.

As a licensee or approved manager, you must:



  • carry your photo ID card at all times while working at the brothel for which you are licensed or approved

  • contact the BLA immediately for a replacement if you misplace your photo ID card

  • return your photo ID card to the BLA within seven days if your licence is cancelled or suspended

  • produce your photo ID card on demand to the police or a Consumer Affairs Victoria inspector.

Inspections and regulation

Inspections and regulation


Consumer Affairs Victoria inspectors will regularly visit your premises to ensure they are safe and properly run, in accordance with the Sex Work Act 1994. Our inspectors can enter without your consent or a warrant at any time during operating hours. They will show their ID card before entering.

Documents relating to the business should be available in a form that can be immediately and easily inspected. Inspectors also have authority to seize anything they reasonably believe to be connected to a contravention of the Sex Work Act 1994 or the Sex Work Regulations 2016, and to make copies or take extracts of any document.

By law, you must comply if the inspectors ask to see the licensee’s or approved manager’s current licence, certificate of approval or photo ID card.

Sex workers

Age


It is an offence, punishable by a heavy fine, or up to one year’s jail, to allow a child over 18 months and under 18 years of age to enter or remain on brothel premises. You should take all reasonable steps to obtain proof of age and make sure workers are aged over 18 years. It is an offence to allow a child to engage in sex work, either as the sex worker or the client.

Underage sex work is strictly illegal and all allegations will be referred to Victoria Police. Consumer Affairs Victoria can start proceedings for disciplinary action against a licensee who is charged with an indictable offence relating to child sex work. The licence would be automatically cancelled if the licensee was convicted or found guilty. Offences connected with underage sex work are punishable by jail terms of up to 15 years.


Visa/entitlement to work


When people from outside Australia wish to work in your brothel or escort agency, you must:

  • ask for evidence of a valid visa

  • check that a visa is not fraudulent by using the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)’s free Visa Entitlement Verification Online service .

  • comply with the conditions imposed on the visa, including the rostering of hours.

Safety of sex workers


You have obligations to ensure sex workers have a safe working environment. See the advice on Occupational health and safety, from page 15.

Physical and sexual assault


You must understand that sex workers are at risk of physical and sexual assault. Sexual assault includes sexual activity that a person has not consented to, and can include sexual behaviours that make the victim feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened.

Call

000 immediately if a sex worker makes a complaint about physical or sexual assault.


Sexual slavery


Sexual slavery (also called sexual servitude) means causing a person to provide commercial sexual services using:

  • force

  • threats

  • unlawful detention

  • fraud or misrepresentation, including by omission or excessive debt.

Sexual slavery can occur even where the worker knowingly came to Australia in order to do sex work, is getting paid, and is not kept under lock and key.

Sexual slavery is strictly illegal and all allegations will be referred to the police. Brothel owners or managers keeping people in sexual slavery can face a maximum jail term of 15 years.

As detailed below, you must display prescribed sexual slavery signs in reception areas and all sex work rooms.

Brothel receptions and common areas

Display of licence and business name certificate


Inspectors will check your brothel’s reception area or foyer for your licence and business name certificate. Your current licence must be displayed near the entrance so it is visible to clients.

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


Sexual slavery signage


You must display prescribed sexual slavery signage in your premises. These signs are available by calling 1300 55 81 81 or on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website . Select the ‘Running your business’ link at consumer.vic.gov.au/sexwork .

The sign is in English, traditional and simplified Chinese, Thai, Russian and Korean. It must be displayed in a conspicuous place in:



  • the reception area of the brothel, and

  • every room used for sex work.

These signs must be clearly visible and legible. Failure to display the sign is against the law and may lead to a fine.

Advertising material


Inspectors may request to see or collect documents including advertising material such as brochures or business cards.

All advertising material must have the letters SWA followed by the licence number. These letters must be clearly legible and printed no smaller than the smallest point type appearing in the advertisement or in a seven-point type, whichever is larger.

Any advertising published on traditional non-internet media, that includes a photograph or picture of a person, must only show their head and shoulders.

Advertising published on the internet, that includes a photograph or picture of a person, is not limited to the head and shoulders but must comply with specific content restrictions. Advertising published on the internet must not contain an image or other representation of:



  • the bare sexual organs, buttocks or anus of a person, or frontal nudity of the genital region

  • bare breasts

  • a sexual act or simulated sexual act, or

  • a person under the age of 18 years.

The licensee must have the written consent of any person whose image is published in an advertisement for a sex work service provider business.

Advertising must not:



  • describe services offered

  • refer to the health of sex workers, or any diagnostic procedures or medical testing undertaken by them

  • contain the words ‘massage’, ‘masseur’, ‘remedial’ or any other words that state or imply that the person or business provides massage services

  • contain a statement that is intended or likely to induce a person to work as a sex worker or in a brothel or escort agency

  • be larger than 13 cm x 18 cm

  • contravene the Sex Work Regulations 2016.

You may advertise for staff for the brothel or escort agency who will not engage in sex work, such as administrative and cleaning staff. However, you must ensure that any advertising for other staff does not contain a statement that is intended or likely to induce a person to work as a sex worker in a brothel or escort agency, as this is prohibited.

Alcohol and drugs


It is illegal to sell, supply or consume alcohol at a brothel, or for a sex work service provider to permit liquor to be sold, supplied or consumed there. Our inspectors may search the brothel premises for evidence of alcohol.

If inspectors discover illegal drugs in the course of an inspection, they will notify Victoria Police. Also see the advice about Storing and disposing of waste on page 14.


Locker areas


Our inspectors have the right to inspect workers’ locker areas.

Inspections by other agencies

Department of Health & Human Services


The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (PHWA) includes various provisions relating to Victorian brothels and escort agencies.

The Act requires authorised officers from the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services to inspect all licensed brothels at least once every year. As part of these inspections, at the request of an authorised officer, the person in charge of the brothel must allow the authorised officer to interview sex workers on the premises without the proprietor being present.


Australian Taxation Office


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) enforces Commonwealth laws about taxation. Their agents can enter your brothel, provided they have photo identification and written authority from the ATO to access your records. The ATO must give notice of any visit.

For more information on your tax obligations, visit the Australian Taxation Office website and search for:



  • adult industry workers

  • GST and the sex industry .

Department of Immigration and Border Protection


The DIBP inspects brothels to ensure businesses comply with visa requirements.

(See Visa/entitlement to work on page 7)

You must ensure that your brothel operations comply with the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth) and that you only employ Australian citizens or non-citizens over the age of 18 years who are legally entitled to work in Australia.

For more information on visa types, visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website .


Local councils


Local councils, together with police, take court action to shut down illegal brothels. If you continue to operate an illegal brothel, you can face large fines or up to 12 months’ jail.

Councils are responsible under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 for:



  • considering permit applications from prospective brothel owners

  • monitoring compliance with planning requirements.

Victoria Police


Victoria Police can enter any licensed brothel or escort agency in Victoria without a search warrant, if approved by the Chief Commissioner of Police.

Victoria Police’s Sex Industry Coordination Unit (SICU) was established in 2012. SICU aims to protect vulnerable people in the sex work industry and combat criminal activity, including underage sex work, unlicensed sex work and assault. SICU members do not wear uniforms but do wear Victoria Police lanyards with identification.

Victoria Police also works with the Australian Federal Police on criminal activity such as people trafficking for sex work.

Australian Federal Police


The Australian Federal Police enforces Commonwealth laws relating to sexual slavery and people trafficking.

The Australian Federal Police can enter your premises with your consent, or without your consent if they have a warrant or if they believe that a crime is being committed. They may also be accompanied by officials from the ATO, DIBP and Centrelink.

Responsibilities of the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police include:


Australian Federal Police



Victoria Police



  • sexual slavery

  • immigration offences

  • drug offences.

  • criminal breaches of the Sex Work Act 1994

  • sexual slavery

  • sexual assault

  • drug offences

  • other crimes.
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