Private Sex Worker Laws

Unsplash: Maru Lombardo

Please note Sex Work Law Reform Victoria does not provide legal advice. For more information about sex work laws, please see our legislation page. For legal advice contact St Kilda Legal Service.

Private Work

You are a private sex worker if you’re self-employed, arrange your own advertising, meet your clients indoors and keep all of the money they pay you. You don’t have a boss and don’t give anyone else a ‘cut’ of your earnings.

Key Points

  • You must have a SWA Number and quote it on all your ads.*
  • You cannot provide incall bookings, ie. in your home or hotel/motel booked by you.
  • You must use condoms.
  • You cannot work if you have a sexually transmissible infection (STI).

*Victoria’s sex work licensing laws require all private sex workers to have a government-issued registration number, known as a SWA number. Once you register your personal details on the government register, those details can be accessed by authorised members of Victoria Police. More information about SWA numbers can be found at the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

The following table refers to STIs. An STI is a sexually transmissible infection.

In the ‘Law’ column below, SWA refers to the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic).

The following table refers to the BLA. BLA means Business Licensing Authority, a division of Consumer Affairs Victoria. This table is a summary of the wording of the legislation and should be treated as a guide only. Please refer to the legislation for details.

Private Sex Work – What’s Legal?

WHAT YOU CAN DO   

 

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

WHAT YOU MUST DO

MAXIMUM PENALTY 

LAW 

Apply for a SWA Number

   

s23 of SWA

 

You can’t work without a SWA number

 

$4,956 fine

s24 of SWA

  

Update SWA registration details each year

$4,956 fine

s24A of SWA

 

You can’t use a false SWA number

 

$6,608 fine

s11(3) of SWR

Outcalls – visit clients at their home or hotel/motel

   

s23 of SWA

 

Incalls – you can’t see clients at your home (whether rented or owned) or hotel/motel booked in your name

 

3 years’ jail or

$198,264 fine

ss 21A and 77 of SWA, s126 of PEA

 

You can’t assist another private worker to do incalls

  

s23(2)(a) of SWA

WHAT YOU CAN DO

    

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

WHAT YOU MUST DO

MAXIMUM PENALTY 

LAW 

Use a driver

    

Take calls from clients, make your own bookings, manage finances, and your safety

    
 

You can’t talk to a client about prices and services in a church (or other place of worship),  hospital or school.

 

9 months’ jail or $14,869 fine

s13(1) of SWA

 

You can’t have an agreement with someone to refer clients to you or give someone a cut for finding clients. You can’t refer your clients to other sex workers

 

5 years’ jail or

$198,264 fine

s23 of SWA

Work with one other sex worker, sharing one SWA number. You must both register with the BLA

    
 

You can’t work with more than one other person using the same SWA number

   

WHAT YOU CAN DO 

   

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

WHAT YOU MUST DO

MAXIMUM PENALTY 

LAW 

Advertise your services online or in print

   

reg 11 of SWR

  

Include your SWA number in your advertisements

$6,447 fine

reg 11(1)(a) of SWR and s17(1) of SWA

 

You can’t mention the word ‘massage’ or words similar to ‘massage’ in your ads

 

$6,608 fine

s17(4)

 

You can’t describe the sexual services you offer in your ads

 

$6,608 fine

s17(1)(a) of SWA

Include photos of yourself, including your face in your online ads

   

regs 11(4) -(5) of SWR

 

You can’t show penis, vagina, bare buttocks or female nipples in your online ads

 

$6,608 fine

reg 11(5) of SWR

WHAT YOU CAN DO

    

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

WHAT YOU MUST DO

MAXIMUM PENALTY 

LAW 

 

You can’t show another person in your ad without their written permission

 

$6,608 fine

reg 11(4)(c) of SWR

Include your sexual orientation, eg. ‘male clients only, gay escort’ in your ads

   

reg 6(a) of SWR

 

You can’t advertise on TV

 

$6,608 fine

reg 11(4)(b) of SWR

Say that safer sex is practiced or that condoms are used in your ads

   

r11(6)(b) of SWR

 

You can’t state your health status or talk about your medical testing for STIs in your ads

 

$6,608 fine

r11(4)(d) of SWR

  

Use a condom for full sex and blowjobs

$3,304 fine

s18A(1) of SWA

WHAT YOU CAN DO

    

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

WHAT YOU MUST DO

MAXIMUM PENALTY 

LAW 

 

You can’t work if you know you have an STI

 

$3,304 fine

s20(1) of SWA, regs 6(a) – (h) of SWR

 

You can’t work if you know you are HIV positive

 

$3,304 fine

s20(1) of SWA, reg 6(h) of SWR

Also work in licensed brothels or for licensed escort agencies

    
 

You can’t see a client under 18 years of age

 

10 years’ jail

s5(1) of SWA

 

STI = sexually transmissible infection

BLA = Business Licensing Authority, a division of Consumer Affairs Victoria

SWA = Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)

SWR = Sex Work Regulations 2016 (Vic)

PEA = Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic)

Fines updated annually on 1 July

 

Last updated: 6 July 2019

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