Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

 

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.

CAV licenses a wide range of businesses; from caravan parks to retirement villages. CAV:

Consumer Affairs Victoria Annual Report 2020
Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria
Consumer Affairs Victoria Annual Report 2020
Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria

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 2020, there were 88 licensed brothels and 22 licensed escort agencies.

2. Consumer Affairs Victoria refers to licensed brothel/escort agency owners as ‘sex industry business owners (licensees)’

3. The graph above excludes unlicensed brothel and unlicensed escort agency owners

Consumer Affairs Victoria Annual Report 2020
Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria

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 2020, there were 88 licensed brothels and 22 licensed escort agencies.

2. The graph above excludes unlicensed brothel and unlicensed escort agency managers.

Sex Work Brothel Managers Consumer Affairs Victoria
  1. Based on all 567 licensed sex industry business managers and 111 licensed sex industry business owners.
  2. Graphs based on data dated 30 June, 2020.
  3. Source: Business Licensing Authority
  4. Sex industry businesses include both brothels and escort agencies.
  5. 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.
  6. Each brothel may have more than one manager and more than one owner. 
  7. Each escort agency may have more than one manager and more than one owner.
  8. The Business Licensing Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria refer to sex industry business managers as ‘sex work brothel managers’
  9. The Business Licensing Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria refer to sex industry business owners as ‘sex work service providers (licensees)’
  10. The graphs above exclude unlicensed sex industry businesses.

Possible reasons for the decline in the number of licensed managers and owners:

  • competition from the proliferation of unlicensed (illegal) brothels
  • competition due to the sex working population increasingly becoming self-employed  ie. moving from brothels/escort agencies/street sectors to self-employed (private) sex work
sex workers Consumer Affairs Victoria
Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria
  1. The graph above excludes the estimated 4000 unregistered private (self-employed) sex workers.
  2. Following the passage of the Consumer Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Vic) in late 2019, data from 2020 onwards is no longer available.

These graphs illustrate that the sex industry is changing and that legislation has failed to keep pace. The last inquiry into the regulation of the Victorian sex industry was in 1985.

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

  1. See section 1 of the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic), purpose. 

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2020

Last updated: 29 December,  2020