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Prostitution in Australia Sex work in Australia is governed by state and territory laws, which vary considerably. Federal legislation also affects some aspects of sex work throughout Australia, and of Australian citizens abroad. Though Australia is largely old fashioned in its attitude to prostitution, the legal responses of the nine separate jurisdictions have differed. Some of the differences have been due to political factors. Eastern Australian states and territories liberalised their laws in the late 20th century; but liberalisation has been restricted by upper houses of Parliament of several states, with legislation either defeated or extensively amended.
New South Wales was the first state or territory to adopt a different model, decriminalising prostitution in This became a model for New Zealand and a failed attempt in Western Australia in Victoria and Queensland adopted different models, based on legalisation—Victoria in and Queensland in In the remaining states of Tasmania , South Australia and Western Australia, despite intense debate and many proposed legislative reforms there has been no change in the laws.
The Australian Capital Territory adopted partial decriminalisation in , and the Northern Territory allowed partial decriminalisation in and full decriminalisation in In all jurisdictions the issue remains divisive, and in the three eastern states with regulated prostitution there has been intermittent review. Much of the information in this article concerns cisgender heterosexual, not homosexual or transgender , prostitution. In Australia, legislation and regulation has progressively replaced the terms "prostitute" and "prostitution" with "sex worker" and "sex work".
Sex work in Australia has operated differently depending on the period of time evaluated. For this reason discussion is divided into three distinct periods: convict, late colonial, and post-federation. Pre-colonial "prostitution" among Aboriginal peoples is not considered here, since it bore little resemblance to contemporary understanding of the term. The late colonial period viewed prostitution as a public health issue, through the Contagious Diseases Acts. Since Federation in , the emphasis has been on criminalising activities associated with prostitution.
Although not explicitly prohibiting paid sex, the criminal law effectively produced a de facto prohibition. Prostitution probably first appeared in Australia at the time of the First Fleet in Some of the women transported to Australia had ly worked in prostitution, while others chose the profession due to economic circumstances, and a severe imbalance of the sexes. While the Bigge Inquiry refers to brothels, these were mainly women working from their own homes. In the colonial period, prior to federation , Australia adopted the Contagious Diseases Acts of the United Kingdom between and in an attempt to control venereal disease in the military, requiring compulsory inspection of women suspected of prostitution, and could include incarceration in a lock hospital.
After federation, criminal law was left in the hands of the states. But criminal law relating to prostitution only dates from around These laws did not make the act of prostitution illegal but did criminalise many activities related to prostitution. These laws were based on English laws passed between and , and related to soliciting, age restrictions, brothel keeping, and leasing accommodation.
Since the s there has been a change toward liberalisation of prostitution laws, but although attitudes to prostitution are largely homogenous, the actual approaches have varied. A May Australian Institute of Criminology report recommended that prostitution not be a criminal offence, since the laws were ineffective and endangered sex workers.
A survey conducted in the early s showed that Men who had paid for sex were more likely than other men to smoke, to drink more alcohol, to have had a sexually transmitted infection STI or been tested for HIV, to have more sexual partners, to have first had vaginal intercourse before 16, and to have had heterosexual anal intercourse. Health and safety regulations and peer education have been effective at keeping STIs in the sex worker population at a low level, similar to the general population, and comparable among the states.
The of people trafficked into or within Australia is unknown. Estimates given to a parliamentary inquiry into sexual servitude in Australia ranged from to 1, trafficked women annually. Australia did not become a party to the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others when it was implemented in Australia has also ratified on 8 January the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography , which requires it to prohibit, besides other things, child prostitution.
For the purpose of the Protocol, is any human being under the age of 18, unless an earlier age of majority is recognised by a country's law. In all Australian jurisdictions, the minimum age at which a person can engage in prostitution is 18 years, although it is argued against the age of consent, and it is always illegal to engage another in prostitution.
A research on migration, sex work and trafficking showed that, due to the decriminalisation of sex work in some of its states and to a recent increase in work visa opportunities for sections of migrant sex workers, the s of human trafficking victims into the sex industry in Australia had dramatically decreased. Sex work in the Australian Capital Territory is governed by the Sex Work Act , also known as "Anna's Law",  following partial decriminalisation in Sex workers may work privately but must work alone. Soliciting remains illegal Section Prior to passage of the Prostitution Act , prostitution policy in the Australian Capital Territory ACT consisted of "containment and control" under the Police Offences Act  This prohibited keeping a brothel, persistently soliciting in a public place, or living on the earnings of prostitution.
This law was not enforced. Having considered the example of other Australian States that had adopted various other models, the committee recommended decriminalization, which occurred in the Prostitution Act. The legal situation was reviewed again with a Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety's inquiry into the ACT Prostitution Act , following the death of a year-old woman, Janine Cameron, from a heroin overdose in a brothel in The inquiry was established on 28 October Written submissions were required by 26 February at which time 58 submissions had been received.
The Eros Association, which represents the industry also called for removal of registration and for an expansion into residential areas. In the October elections the opposition Liberals campaigned on a platform to oppose allowing more than one sex worker to use a premise in suburban areas  but were not successful in preventing a further term of the ALP Green alliance.
New South Wales NSW has the most liberal legislation on prostitution in Australia, with almost complete decriminalisation, and has been a model for other jurisdictions such as New Zealand. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph , illegal brothels in Sydney outed d operations by four to one. NSW was founded in and was responsible for Tasmania until , Victoria until and Queensland until It inherited much of the problems of port cities, penal colonies, and the gender imbalance of colonial life.
Initially there was little specific legislation aimed at prostitution, but prostitutes could be charged under vagrancy provisions if their behaviour drew undue attention. In Commissioner Bigge reported stated there were 20 brothels in Sydney, and many women at the Parramatta Female Factory were involved in prostitution. The Select Committee into the Condition of the Working Classes of the Metropolis described widespread prostitution. Attempts to pass contagious diseases legislation were resisted, and unlike other States, legislative control was minimal till the general attack on 'vice' of the first decade of the twentieth century which resulted in the Police Offences Amendment Act , and the Prisoners Detention Act.
Street prostitution was controlled by the Vagrancy Act sec. The Vagrancy Act was further strengthened in , making it an offence to 'loiter for the purpose of prostitution' sec. These provisions were then incorporated into the Summary Offences Act , s. In the s an active debate about the need for liberalisation appeared, spearheaded by feminists and libertarians , culminating under the Wran ALP government in the Prostitution Act Eventually NSW became a model for debates on liberalising prostitution laws.
But almost immediately, community pressure started to build for additional safeguards, particularly in Darlinghurst ,  although police still utilised other legislation such as the Offences in Public Places Act for unruly behaviour. Eventually, this led to a subsequent partial recriminalisation of street work with the Prostitution Amendment Act , of which s. This resulted in Darlinghurst street workers relocating. Further decriminalisation of premises followed with the  implementation of recommendations from the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly Upon Prostitution — Although the committee had recommended relaxing the soliciting laws, the new Greiner Liberal government tightened these provisions further in through the Summary Offences Act in response to community pressure.
The suburbs of King's Cross in Sydney and Islington in Newcastle have been traditional centres of prostitution. New South Wales is the only Australian state that legalises street prostitution. But community groups in those locations have occasionally lobbied for re-criminalisation.
As promised in its election campaign, the Liberal Party sought review of the regulation of brothels. In September , it issues a discussion paper on review of the regulations. Generally prostitution policy in NSW has been bipartisan. But in the Liberal centre-right opposition announced that it would make prostitution reform part of its campaign for the March State election.
The plan would involve a new licensing authority, following revelations that the sex industry had been expanding and operating illegally as well as in legal premises. The Liberals claimed that organised crime and coercion were part of the NSW brothel scene. Sex work including the operation of brothels and street work became legal, subject to regulation, in the Northern Territory in with the passage of the Sex Industry Act  which repealed earlier legislation. Unlike other parts of Australia, the Northern Territory remained largely Aboriginal for much longer, and Europeans were predominantly male.
Inevitably this brought European males into close proximity with Aboriginal women. There has been much debate as to whether the hiring of Aboriginal women Black Velvet as domestic labour but also as sexual partners constituted prostitution or not. Once the Commonwealth took over the territory from South Australia in , it saw its role as protecting the indigenous population, and there was considerable debate about employment standards and the practice of 'consorting'.
Bonney In the Prostitution Regulation Act reformed and consolidated the common law and statute law relating to prostitution. The Attorney-General's Department conducted a review in A further review was subsequently conducted in Under this legislation brothels and street work were illegal, but The Northern Territory Licensing Commission  could Northern Territory residents for a licence to operate an escort agency business. Sex workers protested against the fact that the NT was the only part of Australia where workers had to register with the police.
The NT Government had consistently rejected calls for legalisation of brothels,  and as elsewhere in Australia any liberalisation has been vigorously opposed by religious groups.Sydney legal brothel
email: [email protected] - phone:(357) 633-9409 x 5712
Is prostitution legal in Australia?