Sex work – what is it?
Sex work is the exchange of sexual services for money or goods.
Sexual Services – what are they?
The definition of sexual services adopted in Victoria has three main activities under it. They are:
- Taking part with someone in an act of sexual penetration. This includes oral, anal and vaginal sexual penetration. If you put a tongue, finger or other part of the body or an object, into a vagina, anus or mouth – or let any of these things be done to you – it’s an act of sexual penetration (Crimes Act 1958).
- Masturbating someone. To be considered masturbating, their genitals can be clothed and they don’t have to cum.
- Letting someone view acts of sexual penetration or masturbation when there is any form of physical contact between any watcher and any watched or when any watcher is allowed or encouraged to masturbate.
If you get money or goods for doing any of these things, you are doing sex work.
Is Sex Work Legal?
Sex work is a legal job in Victoria, if you adhere to the Sex Work Act (1994).
No matter where you work:
- you must be over the age of 18 to do sex work, and
- the choice to do sex work must be yours, that is, it is against the law for anyone to force or bully you into sex work.
Starting out in the sex industry
Welcome to the Victorian sex industry! This information is available and is for people who are interested in sex working or those who are currently sex working. We acknowledge that people will have different experiences, and that not everyone is going to be the same. Respect yourself and expect respect from others. Your time in the sex industry will be better by having the right information, setting realistic expectations for yourself and knowing your limits. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your copy.
It is law that all sex workers in Victoria must attend three monthly STI testing which includes a blood test. You may have heard that Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) are a risk in Victoria. Whilst it is a well-known fact that sex workers are among the best in the community for looking after their sexual health, these infections have the capacity to affect your health, as well as your capacity to earn. The top four things you need to remember about preventing STIs are:
- Condoms and lube – each time … every time.
- Check ups – every three months, need it or not!
- Checking clients – for lumps, bumps, discharges and critters.
- Stay cool, calm and collected – stay in control!
For more information on STIs.
Sex worker friendly referrals
RhED has many referrals for sex worker friendly providers such as doctors, counsellors, bank managers, migration law and accountants. Email email@example.com or phone 1800 458 752 for more information.
Mental and physical health
Your physical and mental health is most important to consider. Any job has specialised skills and knowledge. Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs), ways of working with customers safely and different types of sex work is important. RhED runs workshops for people entering or working in the sex industry that provide education and information on mental and physical impacts and ways to self-care and nurture yourself.
Discrimination and stigma
Victorian laws protect you from discrimination on the basis of your sex work. RhED advocates for systemic and legal changes to improve the health and wellbeing of sex workers including reducing discrimination and violence against sex workers; increasing the social inclusion of sex workers and promoting equitable access to health and other relevant services for sex workers.
If you decide to tell your family and friends what you’re doing, you need to be aware that some of them may not be able to accept it. This can make you feel alone and isolated.
Alternatively, if you decide not to tell anyone you’ll have to lie about where you’re going, what you’re doing and where your money is coming from. You may also become paranoid about someone you know finding out.
You need to take steps to ensure that you get the support you need. It’s a good idea for at least one other person to know that you are doing sex work. Confidential assistance is available from RhED.
GLBTI anti-discrimination protection
Victorian Laws also protect you from discrimination on the basis of your sexual orientation and gender identity. This is to ensure that you can’t be treated differently from anyone else because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex.
It’s essential that sex workers are aware of potential occupational risks, how to avoid and handle them. RhED has information on working in the industry across all sectors. This includes places to work, how to engage a driver, how to advertise, how to maintain your physical, mental and emotional health.
Link to (safety tips for escort workers pdf), (tips for novices), advertising tips for exempt escort workers
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1800 458 752 for more information.
Exiting the sex industry
The Pathways Program recognises that a career in the sex industry, like any other career, can have an expiry date for some people. Also some workers are interested in expanding their employment opportunities outside the sex industry. The Program does not put pressure on workers to leave the industry. It is aimed at those workers who want to explore and expand their options. Email email@example.com or phone 1800 458 752 for more information.
RhED has other resources that sex workers may find useful.
- Advertising tips for sex workers
- Safety tips for escort workers
- Starting out kit
- The STI handbook
To obtain a copy of any or all of the resources, phone RhED 1800 458 752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org