Top Myths About Sex Work in Australia

The Myths

The Facts

Myth 1

All sex workers are women and all their clients are men.

Fact 1

Australian studies show around 20% of sex workers are male or transgender.¹  ²

Myth 2

No one really chooses to become a sex worker.

Fact 2

Sex work is work. For many it provides a flexible, well paid source of income.³

Myth 3

Sex workers are desperate drug addicted women with no other options for work.

Fact 3

Australian studies show a minority of sex workers have substance abuse issues.

Myth 4

Most sex workers were sexually abused in childhood.

Fact 4

Many people in society have experienced childhood sexual abuse. There is no evidence to suggest that child sexual assault contributes uniquely to the choice to take up sex work.

Myth 5

Exploitation is rife in the sex industry.

Fact 5

Available police data shows human trafficking and coercion are rare.

Myth 6

Most sex workers are working on the street.

Fact 6

Only about 1% of Victorian sex workers are street-based.

Myth 7

Asian migrant women working in illegal brothels have all been sex trafficked.

Fact 7

Australian Federal Police data shows there have been 21 human trafficking related offences in Victoria’s sex industry over a twelve year period (2005 – 2016). Two of these 21 offences resulted in a conviction.


"As long as there is stigma associated with sex work, support will remain difficult for those working within the industry."

Parker, 26


Last updated: 13 June 2019

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