Decriminalisation of sex work

On 13 August 2021, the Victorian Government announced that it is seeking to decriminalise sex work. The first stage of this process likely to begin in 2022.


Suzan Gencay


Banning notices

Last updated

1 July 2021

According to the Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic) (‘SW Act‘):

[a] relevant police officer who suspects on reasonable grounds that a person is committing, or has just com­mitted a relevant offence within a declared area, may give the person a notice banning the person, for the period specified in the notice, from the declared area.

Under section 18(4) of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) the minister may publish, in the Victoria Government Gazette, a notice that declares an area to be a declared area because street sex work is occurring there. The last notice of a declared area was released on 26 July 2016; this notice includes streets in the City of Greater Dandenong. On 2 May 2013, a notice of a declared area was issued for streets in the City of Port Phillip. The Victoria Government Gazette is available online (

The period specified in the banning notice must not exceed 72 hours, starting from the time the notice is given to the person to whom it applies.

A person to whom a banning notice applies must not enter, or attempt to enter, the declared area. The penalty for this conduct is up to 20 pu.

The defences for this conduct include:

  • an honest mistake;
  • reasonable belief about the facts of the banning notice;
  • if the circumstances of the offence were beyond the accused’s control; or
  • at the time of the contravention the person lived or worked in the declared area.

If a police officer is not in uniform, they must produce proof of their identity before issuing a banning notice or directing a person subject to a banning notice to leave the declared area. If a person does not comply with the direction, a police officer can use reasonable force to remove the person from the declared area.

Infringement notices can be issued for breaches of a banning notice. More information can be found in section 21J of the SW Act.

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