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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. Legal responses of the nine jurisdictions of Australia to prostitution 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 TasmaniaSouth 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 inand 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 transgenderprostitution. 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 inthe 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 federationAustralia 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 andand 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 Pornographywhich 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 Actalso 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 Actprostitution 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 Actfollowing 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 Telegraphillegal brothels in Sydney outed d operations by four to one.
NSW was founded in and was responsible for Tasmania untilVictoria 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 Actand the Prisoners Detention Act.
Street prostitution was controlled by the Vagrancy Act sec. The Vagrancy Act was further strengthened inmaking it an offence to 'loiter for the purpose of prostitution' sec. These provisions were then incorporated into the Summary Offences Acts. In the s an active debate about the need for liberalisation appeared, spearheaded by feminists and libertariansculminating 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 Actof 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 Septemberit 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 init 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. The ALP government, elected inissued a discussion paper in March It was referred to committee on 18 September, inviting public submissions. Brothels are legal. There are two types of sex work that are legal in Queensland:. All other forms of sex work remain illegal, including more than one worker sharing a premise, street prostitutionund brothels or massage parlours used for sex work, and outcalls from d brothels.
Much emphasis was placed in colonial Queensland on the role of immigration and the indigenous population in introducing and sustaining prostitution, while organisations such as the Social Purity Society described what they interpreted as widespread female depravity. Brothels were defined in section of the Queensland Criminal Code inwhich explicitly defined 'bawdy houses' in Solicitation was an offence under Clause E, and could lead to a fine or imprisonment. Other measures included the long-standing vagrancy laws and local by-laws. The Fitzgerald Report Commission of Inquiry into "Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct" of led to widespread concern regarding the operation of the laws, and consequently a more specific inquiry Criminal Justice Commission.
Regulating morality? An inquiry into prostitution in Queensland in This in turn resulted in two pieces of legislation, the Prostitution Laws Amendment Act and the Prostitution Act The Crime and Misconduct Commission reported on the regulation of prostitution in and on outcall work in Despite the intentions of the founders, prostitution became identified early in the history of the colony, known as the 'social evil', and various government reports during the nineteenth century refer to estimates of the of people working in prostitution.
Inwithin six years of the founding of the colony, it was reported that there were now "large s of females who are living by a life of prostitution in the city of Adelaide, out of all proportion to the respectable population".
The Police Act  set penalties for prostitutes found in public houses or public places  This was consistent with the vagrancy laws then operating throughout the British Empire and remained the effective legislation for most of the remainder of the century, although it had little effect despite harsher penalties enacted in and Following the scandal described by WT Stead in the UK, there was much discussion of the white slave trade in Adelaide, and with the formation of the Social Purity Society of South Australia in along similar lines to that in other countries, similar legislation to the UK Criminal Law Consolidation Amendment Act was enacted, making it an offence to procure the defilement of a female by fraud or threat the Protection of Young Persons Act.
While current legislation is based on acts of parliament from the s and s, at least six unsuccessful attempts have been made to reform the laws, starting in Parliament voted a select committee of inquiry in August,  renewed following the election. The committee report recommended decriminalisation.
A of issues kept sex work in the public eye during and The next development occurred on 8 February when Ian Gilfillan Australian Democrat MLC stated he would introduce a decriminalisation private members bill. He did so on 10 April  but it met opposition from groups such as the Uniting Church and it lapsed when parliament recessed for the winter. Another bill came in and then Mark Brindala Liberal backbencher, produced a discussion paper on decriminalisation in Novemberand on 9 February he introduced a private member's bill Prostitution Decriminalisation Bill to decriminalise prostitution and the Prostitution Regulation Bill on 23 February.
He had been considered to have a better chance of success than the initiatives due to a "sunrise clause" which would set a time frame for a parliamentary debate prior to it coming into effect. He twice attempted to get decriminalisation bills passed, although his party opposed this.
It had little support and lapsed when parliament recessed. No further attempts to reform the law were been made for some time, however in a governing Labor backbencher and former minister, Stephanie Keyannounced she would introduce a private members decriminalisation bill. She presented her proposals to the Caucus in September  and tabled a motion on 24 November "That she have leave to introduce a Bill for an Act to decriminalise prostitution and regulate the sex work industry; to amend the Criminal Law Consolidation Actthe Equal Opportunity Actthe Fair Work Actthe Summary Offences Act and the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act ; and for other purpose".
The proposal was opposed by the Family First Party that had ten per cent of the votes in the Legislative Councilwhere Robert Brokenshire now opposed decriminalisation. Key and Lensink collaborated across party lines to develop the legislation, sexual exploitation being the obvious potential in an industry like this, and its introduction to the Legislative Council was intended to test key elements of the legislation with important opponents in the upper house.
The Bill sought to decriminalise sex work by a of legislative amendments. In addition it would remove common law offences relating to sex work and add "sex work" to the Equal Opportunity Act making discrimination against a person for being a sex worker an offence. Criminal records relating to sex work, including brothels, would be deleted by amending the Spent Convictions Act.
The Return to Work Act would be amended to recognise commercial sexual services as in any other business. Sex workers would also be covered under the Work Health and Safety Act . Statistics published at the time showed that only four people had been fined for offering prostitution services in public between 1 October and 30 September In that period, 57 fines for other sex work offences, mainly for managing a brothel or receiving money in a brothel.Prostitution in australia price
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