The legal status of sex work in Australia varies greatly from state to state, and also from one territory to another. Some states, such as Victoria and Queensland, have legalized some forms of sex work. Others, such as New South Wales and Western Australia, still criminalize it.
In Victoria, sex workers are allowed to work outside brothels and brothel lounges. Brothels are illegal in Western Australia and Tasmania.
Sex workers have long lobbied for the full decriminalization of sex work. This would allow them to access occupational and social supports and would enable sex workers to benefit from health and safety protections.
Since 1992, some parts of sex work have been legalized in Queensland, Victoria, and ACT. However, other aspects of the industry remain illegal.
Despite these laws, Australia has one of the lowest rates of HIV infection among sex workers. This is due to the high rates of safe sex practices.
While there are no exact figures on the number of sex workers in Australia, estimates range from one in every six men to up to ten thousand. These numbers are based on research from various studies.
Similarly, Australian sex workers have reported lower rates of STI than the general population. Using condoms with clients has been instituted, and there is a high rate of safe sex practice.
However, migrant sex workers are still subject to the stigma associated with their occupation. For example, if a sex worker lives in Western Australia, they are not allowed to work in the capital city of Canberra.