Do you have a question? Ask us …

The following is a list of RhED’s most frequently asked questions. If you would like further information on any issue email sexworker@sexworker.org.au or phone 1800 458 752.

Please note that the following information is of a general type and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or legal advice.

  • What is sex work?

    Sex work is work!

    Sex work is an umbrella term created in 1978 by sex worker rights activist Carol Leigh at a conference in California.  Leigh’s purpose of coining this term was a political one.  It not only served to counter the dehumanising and stigmatising language used to describe people engaged in the selling of sex and sexual labour, but it also served to unite all of these workers together—in one common movement for labour rights and recognition.

    Sex work can be defined as the provision of sexual services, sexually explicit entertainment or sexually explicit content for reimbursement in the form of capital, goods, or in-kind services.  Sex work takes many forms; ranging from full service sex work such as brothel-based sex work or private escorting — to sexually explicit entertainment such as stripping– or creating sexually explicit content such as OnlyFans.

  • Is sex work legal?


    RhED adopts a broad definition of sex work to include the provision of sexual services, sexually explicit entertainment, and sexually explicit content for reimbursement (which can be in the form of capital, goods, or in-kind services).

    The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022) was passed on the 22 of February 2022 to regulate full-service sex work in the same way other Victorian industries are regulated, and is currently in effect.

    There is no longer a sex work licensing system in Victoria which historically regulated the provision of full-service sex work. Brothel-based sex work, independent sex work, and agency-based escorting have been decriminalised meaning that there are no criminal offences attached to this work, which is regulated in line with general employment laws.

    Street-based sex work is legal, however there are restrictions on where and when people can engage in street-based sex work.

    You can find more information on our legal page.

  • What is sexually explicit entertainment?

    The Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 defines sexually explicit entertainment as “live entertainment that may be performed for an audience, by a person performing an act of an explicit sexual nature, but does not include the provision of sexual services within the meaning of section 3(1) of the Sex Work Act 1994.”

    Sexually explicit entertainment in Victoria often occurs in the form of stripping (striptease/lap dancing) in clubs, peep shows or other venues.

  • Is street-based sex work legal?

    Yes. Street-based sex work is legal however unfortunately is not completely decriminalised like other forms of full-service sex work, and there are restrictions on where and when street-based sex workers can work.

    The Summary Offences Act (1966) Section 38B contains offences restricting street-based sex workers from working at or near the following locations at specified times;

    • places of worship between 6am and 7pm and at any time on prescribed days (see next section for more information),
    • schools between 6am and 7pm every day,
    • children’s services between 6am and 7pm every day,
    • education and care services between 6am and 7pm every day.

    You could be charged and fined for working near these places at the times it is prohibited. If you are charged with an offence, we can support you, and help link you in with sex worker friendly legal support.

    Please see our legal page for more information.

  • What are prescribed days?

    Prescribed days are days of religious significance, sometimes known as holy days. These days include:

    • Yom Kippur
    • Hanukkah
    • Ramadan
    • Eid al-Fitr
    • Christmas Eve
    • Christmas Day
    • Good Friday
    • Easter Saturday
    • Easter Sunday
    • Orthodox Good Friday
    • Orthodox Easter Saturday
    • Orthodox Easter Sunday


    You cannot work near a place of worship on a prescribed day if that place of worship celebrates that holiday. For example, you can’t work near a Catholic church on Christmas day, but you can during Eid al-Fitr (depending on when it falls that year). During Eid al-Fitr you cannot work near a mosque.

    Please see our legal page for more information.

  • How is sex work legislated & regulated in Victoria?

    Full-service sex work is legislated through the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022.

    You can read a copy of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act here.

    Sex work is regulated like other Victorian industries through;

    • Local councils,
    • WorkSafe,
    • Consumer Affairs Victoria (through the protection of consumer rights),
    • Department of Health,
    • Fair Work Commission,
    • Liquor Control Victoria (if relevant).

    Please see our legal page for more information.

  • How do I start work as a sex worker?

    The sex industry is incredibly diverse, and there are many different ways in which someone can work as a sex worker.  Working as a sex worker might look like brothel-based sex working, independent or agency-based escorting, cam-modelling, topless bar/waiting, porn, erotic massage, stripping in clubs or privately for functions and beyond.

    If you are interested in working in the sex industry, and are unsure of where to start, check out our Starting Out Guides;

    Brothel-based sex work

    Stripping (club)

    Independent escorting

    Private stripping

    You can always contact us for a chat about getting started in the industry or career development in the industry via phone 1800 458 752 or by email sexworker@sexworker.org.au.

  • Do I need to register as an independent escort?

    No, you do not have to register to work as an independent escort in Victoria. This was an historic requirement under the old sex work licensing system; however this has been abolished by the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022).

  • Can I provide incall services as an independent escort?

    Yes, you can provide both incall and outcall services in Victoria.

    For more information see our Incalls resource.

  • Do I need a license to open a brothel and/or escort agency?


    The licensing system that existed prior to the implementation of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022) has been abolished.

    General planning laws apply to those wanting to open a brothel or escort agency (now called sex services businesses in planning laws) which are regulated by local councils.

    The planning process for a sex services business is the same as any other business. You can find out more information about this change on this webpage by Planning Victoria.

    Business Victoria have information and resources on starting a new business.

  • Do I need to provide my workplace proof of attendance for quarterly STI checks?


    Before the implementation of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022), Victorian sex workers were required by legislation to provide proof of attendance for quarterly STI screening. This is no longer a legal requirement.

    As outlined by the Victorian Department of Health;

    Evidence has shown that sex workers in Victoria already take great care looking after their sexual health by consistently using condoms and getting tested regularly.

    Mandatory sexual health testing for sex workers has been shown to be a burden on the health system and a barrier for sex workers to access non-stigmatising healthcare. Instead, peer education and improved access to voluntary testing and treatment are the pillars of successful sexually transmissible infection (STI) and blood-borne virus (BBV) prevention.

  • Is it Illegal to work with an STI or HIV?

    No, the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022) removed historic criminal offences tied to working as a full service sex worker with a Blood Borne Virus (such as HIV) or STI. Sex workers, like anyone else with a BBV or STI, should follow the advice of their treating doctor or sexual health nurse regarding what types of sexual activity they need to avoid (if any) and for how long.

    The Department of Health has released guidance for the sex industry related to the management of BBVs and STIs, as well as working with HIV.

    STI and BBV prevention for the sex industry

    Guidance for sex workers living with HIV


    From the Department of Health website:

    Under decriminalisation, sex work will be treated like any other work. Standard obligations under occupational health and safety laws will apply such as maintaining a work environment that is safe and free from risks to health as far as reasonably practicable. The Department of Health is developing clear and practical guidance for infection prevention and control in diverse sex industry contexts.

    In the first stage of reforms, the majority of sex work specific offences, including engaging in sex work with an STI or BBV, will be repealed. The sexual activity that sex workers engage in while at work will be treated the same as sexual activity by any other community member. In Victoria, it is not a criminal offence to have sex (with or without a condom) with an STI or BBV. However, those who test positive for any infectious disease have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent spreading the infection to others.

    The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (‘the Act’) is the key mechanism for how we manage, control and respond to infectious diseases in Victoria, including STIs and BBVs. The Act applies to all persons.

    The Act includes notification requirements for medical practitioners and pathology services as well as Chief Health Officer powers to respond to a serious risk to public health. The public health response to BBVs and STIs includes surveillance, partner notification (contact tracing), guidelines for managing HIV transmission risk behaviours, and provision of education and support for people diagnosed with an STI or BBV and the broader community.

    Like other community members who test positive for an STI or BBV, sex workers conscientiously avoid practices that expose others to transmission. However, in the rare case of an individual who engages in behaviours that put others at risk, the Chief Health Officer has a number of powers available to undertake a risk assessment and manage the risk.”

  • What are my responsibilities as a brothel owner, escort agency or private sex worker under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act?

    The sex industry specific clauses in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act have been removed following the passing of the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act (2022). You can find more information about this in the STI and BBV prevention for the sex industry guide created by the Department of Health.

    If you operate a sex work business, you need to comply with Occupational Health and Safety legislation. WorkSafe have a range of sex work specific resources for creating, managing, and promoting healthy and safe workplaces. You can access these resources on their website here.

  • What are my responsibilities as an owner of a brothel or escort agency?

    As an owner of a brothel and escort agency, you have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the OHS Act) to provide a safe workplace.

    WorkSafe have developed resources to support you in providing a safe workplace for yourself, your workers, and anyone else who comes on site. Some of these responsibilities include;

    • Providing adequate facilities such as a break room, toilets and wash facilities, a place to store personal items safely.
    • Provide personal protective equipment such as safer sex supplies.
    • Ensuring hazards are eliminated or suitably controlled to reduce risk.
    • Providing adequate training, information, and guidance to workers.

    There are a range of resource that have been developed by WorkSafe and the Department of Health in collaboration with sex industry stakeholders that will support you in your responsibilities as a sex industry business owner. You can access the WorkSafe resources here, and can access the Department of Health’s STI and BBV prevention for the sex industry here.

  • Where can I get free and confidential testing?

    Below is a list of public HIV and STI testing clinics in Victoria.

    *Other clinics and doctors may charge for both HIV and STI testing. Best to ask first.


    Melbourne Metropolitan

    Dandenong Sexual Health Nurse

    84 Foster Street
    Dandenong 3185

    T: (03) 9794 3175

    Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

    580 Swanston Street
    Carlton 3053

    (03) 9347 0244 or 1800 032 017

    Royal Woman’s Hospital

    132 Grattan Street
    Carlton 3053

    T: (03) 9344 2000

    Royal Melbourne Hospital

    Infectious Diseases Services
    Grattan Street
    Parkville 3052

    T: (03) 9342 7000



    Ballarat Community Health Sexual Health Clinic
    12 Lilburne Street
    Lucas 3350

    T: (03) 5838 4500

    Bendigo Community Health Sexual Health Clinic

    3 Seymoure Street
    Eaglehawk 3556

    T: (03) 5446 8800

    Barwon Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic

    Outpatients Annexe, Corner Bellerine and Lt Ryrie streets
    Geelong 3220

    T: (03) 5226 4915
    T: 0466 376 158 (Tuesday afternoon clinic)

    Frankston Hospital

    Sexual Health Clinic
    2 Hastings Road
    Frankston 3199

    T: 1300 665 781

    Rosebud Community Health

    Sexual & Reproductive Health
    Women’s Services
    38 Braidwood Ave
    Capel Sound 3940

    T: 1300 665 781

    Albury Sexual Health Service Clinic 72

    Albury Community Health
    596 Smollett St
    Albury 2640

    T: (02) 6056 1589

    For more information phone RhED 1800 458 752 or email sexworker@sexworker.org.au
    For further sex worker friendly referrals, please contact RhED

  • What if my workplace asks me for other tests, for example, drug tests?

    If you are asked to take any such tests you have every right to refuse. Such a request is an infringement on your right to privacy. If you are worried about this kind of practice in your agency, contact RhED on 1800 458 752 or a legal professional for advice. Remember, any information you do give your employer regarding your health is confidential. Your employer/s are obliged (by law) not to discuss or make available to others such information, without your consent.

  • Do I need to pay tax if I'm a sex worker?

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) administers laws that cover all people who earn money. All money earners are ‘obliged’ to pay their share of tax. Taxation law is complex, so get advice from an accountant, tax lawyer or ATO (13 28 61 or www.ato.gov.au ).

    How much tax you end up paying will depend on what you claim as legitimate work related expenses. Get advice about claims from a tax adviser or accountant; in the meantime keep receipts and records of all expenses.

    How much tax, how you pay and when you pay also depends on whether you are an employee or whether you are a self-employed contractor. Get advice from a tax accountant or the ATO if you have any doubts about your employment status.

    If you are a contractor who is self-employed you are entitled to apply for an Australian Business Number or ABN. You cannot apply for an ABN if you are an ‘employee’. Application forms can be obtained from the ATO’s publications department on 1300 720 092, from the ATO website address http://www.ato.gov.au/businesses , and the Australian Business Register website http://www.abr.gov.au/ABR_BC/ . All ABNs are recorded in the Australian Business Register, which is publicly accessible.

    RhED can provide you with a list of sex worker friendly accountants and financial advisers.

    For more information phone RhED 1800 458 752 or email sexworker@sexworker.org.au

  • Do I need to pay GST if I'm a sex worker?

    Your employment status affects your liability for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). If you are an employee you do not need to account for GST. However, the situation can be complex depending on where you work, how the fee is collected from the client, how GST is collected from the client and how payments are distributed between the establishment, the sex worker and the ATO. For further information from the ATO go to http://www.ato.gov.au/Business/GST/In-detail/Your-industry/Other-industries/GST-and-the-sex-industry—questions-and-answers/

    If you have any doubts at all you should discuss your situation with an accountant and/or the ATO on 13 24 78. It’s better to find out from the start, and from an expert, than to risk a bad result from a tax audit. RhED can provide you with a list of sex worker friendly accountants and financial advisers. You can also get more information about the GST from the ATO website: www.ato.gov.au.

  • How to perform a client health check

    Performing a client health check

    Checking your clients for visible signs of STIs is a standard part of the professional service you provide, and the client should expect this; if not then this is an opportunity to educate them. Once the client enters the room and before the service begins is the time to mention you need to do a standard health check on them. Each worker has a different way of going about this (some may opt for a sexy-nurse like health check, others may be more clinical). Will experience you will work out the ways that feel most comfortable for you.

    Where to look

    • Lift the client’s penis/look between vaginal lips, and have a good look around the genital area
    • Lift the testicles and pull back the foreskin
    • Look between the area of the anus and penis
    • Around the anal area
    • Through the pubic hair

    What to look for

    • Sores, blisters, rashes, and warts
    • Itching, redness, swollen glands, unpleasant odour
    • Pubic lice
    • Look over the mouth and lips for blisters and sores, especially if you are going to kiss your client

    Note:    Pre-cum can look normal but it may still be infectious.

    Urinating can clear away a penile discharge and it can be some time before it is visible again.
    Be aware that some STIs are not visible to the eye which is why sex workers always use protection.
    It is preferable to do the STI check prior to a shower as the shower can wash away discharge and odour.

    Once you are satisfied with your client’s health check, you can direct them to have a shower before the service commences. Brothels will have a shower in each room, and it is stand for a client to shower (without you) before a booking and they should expect it.

    If you are unsure about your client’s health check, you could ask another worker (if available) for their opinion. If you see something you are concerned about, you are within your rights to terminate the booking and recommend that the client visits a clinic for tests and treatment before they come back.

    If you don’t want to lose the booking, you could offer another type of service such as a hand job, mutual masturbation or an erotic act while they masturbate themselves.

    See the Scarlet Alliance Red Book for a comprehensive list of STIs: redbook.scarletalliance.org.au

  • What do I do if I think I have experienced discrimination related to my sex worker status?

    The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act has been amended to include ‘Profession, Trade or Occupation’ as a protected attribute. This means it is illegal to discriminate against someone in an area of public life on the basis of them being a sex worker.

    It is also illegal to discriminate against someone for their participation in lawful sexual activity, including sex work.

    The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission have developed resources for sex workers and the general community on sex work discrimination.


    Guideline: Sex Work Discrimination

    What are my rights? Factsheet

    Simplified Chinese

    Guideline: Sex Work Discrimination

    What are my rights? Factsheet


    Guideline: Sex Work Discrimination

    What are my rights? Factsheet


    Guideline: Sex Work Discrimination

    What are my rights? Factsheet


    Guideline: Sex Work Discrimination

    What are my rights? Factsheet

    If you feel that you have been discriminated against for being a sex worker, you can contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Right’s Commission here

    Get in touch with RhED on 1800 458 752 or email sexworker@sexworker.org.au if you would like support throughout this process.

  • Who do I contact if I have OH&S concerns at work?

    WorkSafe are responsible for workplace health and safety under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the OHS Act).

    They have developed a number of resource for the sex industry, including some specifically for sex workers regarding their rights, the responsibility of their workplace, and how to follow up workplace concerns.

    You can find these resources on the Worksafe website to get more information about the work they do, your workplace’s responsibilities, and how to make a complaint.

    RhED can support you in making a report to Worksafe. Get in touch with us on 1800 458 752 or email sexworker@sexworker.org.au if you would like support throughout this process.