Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill FAQs
On This Page
Victoria’s current sex work licensing system is set to be overturned after a sex work decriminalisation bill was tabled¹ in the Victorian Parliament on 12 October, 2021. The Victorian Government has announced a number of separate reforms over two years.
Why Will It Take Two Years to Decriminalise Sex Work?
Decriminalising sex work will involve repealing (deleting) current laws and inserting laws and regulations pertaining to sex work, health, local council and anti-discrimination. This will involve a number of separate changes to law over a period of time, in this case, two years. All changes are scheduled to be completed by 1 December, 2023.
Will Victoria Fully Decriminalise Sex Work?
No. The Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic) retains some criminal penalties associated with street based sex work in some locations and at some times of the day. Loitering or soliciting for the purposes of sex work near a school or other children’s premises will be prohibited:
- between 6am and 7pm and;
- anytime of the day on selected days (such as religious holidays)²
The bill also allows the government to introduce sex work advertising and health related laws in the future, if deemed necessary by the government³. Clause 73 of the bill’s Explanatory Memorandum reads:
‘This framework is no longer required as the Department of Health is developing a new public health and infection control framework for the sex work industry as part of the broader sex work reforms.’⁴
Will the Bill Pass into Law?
We don’t know, but the Victorian Government looks like it has enough support and votes in both houses of parliament to pass this law. We have to wait and see. To read about how the Victorian Parliament works, see our page How the Victorian Parliament Works.
When Will Sex Work Decriminalisation Actually Happen in Victoria?
The bill will pass into law with a final majority vote in the Upper House, expected to occur in the evening of Thursday 10 February 2022. Even if the current bill passes into law, some of the new laws won’t apply until later in 2022⁵. Other parts of the law won’t apply until 1 December 2023⁶.
Has Fiona Patten’s 2020 Sex Work Review Report Been Published?
No. Fiona Patten’s 2020 recommendations regarding reforming Victoria’s sex work laws sits with the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne.
The report has not been made public.
Where Can I Read the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)?
On the Victorian Parliament website.
What Will Happen to the Business Licensing Authority?
The Business Licensing Authority (BLA) is the agency which administers Victoria’s current sex work licensing system. After decriminalisation, the BLA will no longer have a role licensing sex work, but it will continue to administer the licensing of other occupations, including real estate agents, engineers and debt collectors.
If decriminalisation becomes law, BLA will continue to administer the Sex Work Regulation Fund until 1 December, 2023 in order to refund brothel owners and managers their licensing fees⁷.
What Will Happen to the Sex Industry Coordination Unit?
The Sex Industry Coordination Unit (SICU) is a specialist unit within Victoria Police responsible for investigating and enforcing criminal laws pertaining to illegal brothels. The proposed changes to the law will have no bearing on how Victoria Police organises or allocates work to its staff. It is possible staff currently in SICU may be allocated to other areas of Victoria Police.
The Victorian Labor Party inserts the decriminalisation of sex work into its 2018 Platform.
The Victorian Government announces a review of sex work laws to be headed by Fiona Patten, MP
Fiona Patten hands her final report and recommendations to the Victorian Government
The Victorian Government announces it will move to decriminalise sex work over the next two years
Consultations close to the Department of Justice and Community Safety about the role local government will play after sex work is decrimminalised.
Victorian state election
Proposed timeline for completing reforms to decriminalise sex work
What Does the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Have to Do With Sex Work?
Currently brothels are prohibited from obtaining liquor licences to service liquor to customers. This bill seeks to permit brothels to apply for liquor licences, which are issued and administered by the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation.
Which Minister is Responsible for the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)?
The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne.
Which Department is Decriminalising Sex Work?
The Department of Justice and Community Safety
For more information you can contact:
Sex Work Decriminalisation,
Department of Justice and Community Safety
GPO Box 4356
Melbourne VIC 3001
To read about the events leading to decriminalisation since 2010, please read our Sex Work Review Blog.
What Has Sex Work Law Reform Victoria been Doing?
In 2018 and 2019 we lobbied members of parliament, government agencies, police, and others, calling for Victoria’s sex work laws to be reviewed. In 2020 we partnered with the Michael Kirby Centre at Monash University to conduct a sex worker consultation as part of the 2020 Fiona Patten Review into sex work. We made two submissions to the 2020 Review. In 2021, we made a submission to the August 2021 sex work consultation about sex work and local government laws. Along with seven other sex worker support groups, we also met with the Department of Justice and Community Safety on 23 August 2021 for an additional consultation.
- See 3rd item on the Votes and Proceedings No 125
2. Clause 28 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
3. Clauses 7, 49 and 50 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
4. See notes on clause 73 in the Explanatory Memorandum of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
5. Clause 2(2) of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
6. Clause 2(3) of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
7. Clauses 2(3) and 61 of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Bill 2021 (Vic)
© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022
Last updated: 10 February, 2022