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Review to make recommendations for the decriminalisation of sex work

Fiona Patten MP, is leading this targeted review aimed at achieving better public health and human rights outcomes.

The Government is conducting a targeted review to consider the decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria in order to achieve better public health and human rights outcomes.

Fiona Patten MP, Member for Northern Metropolitan Region, is leading the review.

The review will consult with key stakeholders in a series of facilitated sessions to ensure all aspects of decriminalisation are considered and alternative views are heard.

The participating stakeholders are representatives of community, police and local government, health and workplace safety services, as well as people with direct or expert knowledge of, and experience in Victoria’s sex work industry, including business operators and sex workers themselves.

The Government has asked Ms Patten to make recommendations to the Minister for Consumer Affairs Victoria on the preferred options for legislative reform needed to achieve decriminalisation of sex work in Victoria, including reform to legislation concerning health, safety, planning and criminal matters.

What will be considered

In making her recommendations, Ms Patten has been asked to consider:

  • All forms of sex work, including sex work in commercial brothels and escort agencies, sexual services provided in massage parlours and similar businesses, sex work by small owner-operated businesses, and street-based sex work.
  • Workplace safety including health and safety issues and stigma and discrimination against sex workers.
  • Regulatory requirements for operators of commercial sex work businesses.
  • Enforcement powers required to address criminal activity in the sex work industry, including coercion, exploitation, debt bondage and slavery.
  • Local amenity and the location of premises providing sexual services and street-based sex work.
  • The promotion of public health and appropriate regulation of sex work advertising.
  • The safety and wellbeing of sex workers, including the experience of violence that arises in the course of sex work and as a consequence of it, and worker advocacy for safety and wellbeing.

The review is also considering decriminalisation of sex work in other jurisdictions including New Zealand and other Australian states and territories.

In Victoria, sex work is regulated under a legalised model, which means that sex work is only legal if it takes place within the licensing and registration frameworks established by the Sex Work Act 1994.

The decriminalisation of sex work is typically understood to mean the removal of criminal laws relating to consensual adult sex work, and the regulation of sex work through standard business laws.

To contact Ms Patten and the review team about the review, email swr@justice.vic.gov.au

Read the media release announcing the review

Reviewed 17 February 2020

About VIC Government

Contact Ms Patten and the review team

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