Centrelink and Sex Work

In Australia unemployed people who receive welfare payments (Newstart, paid by Centrelink), can be required to ‘accept any suitable job’ as part of their Service Guarantee with the Australian Government.*

Q: If sex work were decriminalised and was seen as being the same as any other employment, would the unemployed be forced by Centrelink to accept work in the sex industry?

A: No. The Social Security Guide explicitly allows the unemployed to decline work in jobs the jobseeker deems unsuitable on moral, cultural or religious grounds, even if the job is legal. Work would also be considered unsuitable if it is not consistent with prevailing community standards.

Sex workers Centrelink Australia
(Unsplash: Kylie Haulk)

*For more information, see the Australian Government’s Social Security Guide Version 1.282 – Released 10 May 2021, Part 1.1.U.55 ‘Unsuitable Work’ and Part Suitable Work, under the heading ‘Other reasons work may be unsuitable’.

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2021

Last updated: 11 June, 2021