Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
In early 2022, the Victorian Parliament passed the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 (Vic), which will progressively decriminalise sex work throughout 2022 and 2023. The information below relates to Victoria’s current sex work licensing laws, which will remain in place until 1 December 2023.
Victoria currently has a licensing/legalisation system of sex work laws. Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) is responsible for licensing sex industry business operators, as well as registering individual sex workers.
- licenses brothel owners and administers a public register of such owners
- licenses brothel managers and administers a public register of such managers
- administers and appoints members of the Sex Work Ministerial Advisory Committee
- administers the Sex Work Regulation Fund, monies used by CAV to regulate the sex industry according the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic)
1. The figures above do NOT reflect the number of licensed brothels and escort agencies in Victoria. There may be more than one owner per brothel/escort agency. In 2022, there were 87 licensed brothels and 22 licensed escort agencies.
1. These figures do NOT reflect the number of licensed brothels and escort agencies in Victoria. There may be more than one manager per brothel/escort agency. In 2022, there were 87 licensed brothels and 22 licensed escort agencies.
Source: Business Licensing Authority
- Based on all 567 licensed sex industry business managers and 111 licensed sex industry business owners.
- Graphs based on data dated 30 June, 2020.
- Source: Business Licensing Authority
- Sex industry businesses include both brothels and escort agencies.
- As most sex industry businesses are brothels, it is likely most of the licensed owners and managers in Victoria work in brothels, rather than escort agencies.
- Each brothel may have more than one manager and more than one owner.
- Each escort agency may have more than one manager and more than one owner.
- The Business Licensing Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria refer to sex industry business managers as ‘sex work brothel managers’
- The Business Licensing Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria refer to sex industry business owners as ‘sex work service providers (licensees)’
- The graphs above exclude unlicensed sex industry businesses.
Possible reasons for the decline in the number of licensed managers and owners:
- The graph above excludes the estimated 4000 unregistered private (self-employed) sex workers.
- Following the passage of the Consumer Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Vic) in late 2019, data from 2020 onwards is not available.
- Following the passage of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022 (Vic) on 1 March 2022, section 24 of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic) was repealed on 10 May 2022. This means self employed sex workers will no longer need to register with the Business Licensing Authority after 10 May 2022 and the corresponding register will be closed and cease operation.
These graphs illustrate that the sex industry is changing and that legislation has failed to keep pace.
Victoria’s Licensing Model is NOT Smart Regulation
Licensing individual sex workers and sex industry businesses may seem to be a sensible way to regulate the sex industry, however, Victoria’s unique licensing system places unworkable restrictions on sex workers, forcing the majority to operate outside the law. This demonstrates that the legislation fails in its aim of controlling sex work.¹
© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022
Last updated: 22 December 2022