Queensland is set to be the latest state to decriminalise sex work under sweeping new changes to the industry.
The state’s Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the intention is to regulate businesses and the industry like any other.
The Queensland government will sign off on the new legislation today.
Currently only services by a person working alone from a premise or providing in-house calls are legal in the state.
Other services such as escort agencies, massage parlours, unlicenced brothels, street workers and working in small groups are all illegal.
Legislation around sex work is state or territory based rather than federal so it varies between jurisdictions.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was asked about it on radio this morning.
“The states look after all of that,” he told KIIS FM.
“But clearly criminalising prostitution doesn’t really work – it just drives it underground and leads to worse behaviour and worse treatment of people involved in what can be a dangerous industry.
What is sex work?
Sex work is the modern term used to describe the exchange of sexual services for money, or another form of payment.
It can include escort services, brothels, massage parlours, and sole traders – but again the exact definition varies.
New South Wales
New South Wales has the most decriminalised system of all Australian jurisdictions, and was the first state to change its legislation, in 1995.
Businesses must comply with health and safety laws such as providing a safe work environment, including providing relevant hygiene services and personal protective equipment.
The second round of Victoria’s sex work reforms are due to come into effect later this year. This will include scrapping the sex work licensing system.
The Northern Territory decriminalised sex work in 2019.
As in many states and territories, brothels and soliciting are prevented from being near schools and age restrictions apply.
Tasmania’s legislation around sex work is some of the most restrictive in the country.
It is legal if no more than two people work together, but brothels and street-based sex workers are still illegal and come with hefty fines.
Australian Capital Territory
Sex work has been legal in the ACT since 1992.
Brothel or escort agencies have to register with the Department of Fair Trading, but sole traders are not required to.
However, street-based sex work is illegal and fines for soliciting apply.
It is illegal to solicit, and to assist in, keep, or manage a brothel, as well as to be paid for sex work at a brothel.
Western Australia also operates under a criminalisation model but penalties for sex work are not always enforced.
Brothels are illegal but while the act of providing sexual services in exchange for payment is legal, some forms activities classed as sex work are not.