Suzan Gencay


Safe sex

Both the Sex Work Act 1994(Vic) (‘SW Act’) and the Sex Work Regulations 2016 (Vic) (‘SW Regulations’) contain sections relating to safe sex. Sex workers and clients must adopt safer sex practices.

The SW Act states that a person must not provide or receive sex work services unless he or she has taken all reasonable steps to ensure a condom or other appropriate barrier is used, if that sex work involves vaginal, anal, or oral penetration or another activity, with a similar or greater risk of acquiring or transmitting sexually transmissible infections.

The SW Regulations define sexually transmissible infections as:

  • chlamydia;
  • chancroid;
  • donovanosis;
  • genital and anal herpes (when lesions are visible);
  • genital and anal warts (when lesions are visible);
  • gonorrhoea;
  • infectious syphilis; and
  • HIV.

The penalty for this breach is up to 20 pu.

A person who provides or receives sex work services must take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of getting or spreading sexually transmissible infections while providing or receiving those services. The penalty is up to 20 pu.

Sex work service providers, brothel managers or escort agency managers must not permit a sex worker to work during any period when they know the worker is infected with a sexually transmissible infection. The penalty is up to 50 pu.

If a sex worker worked when they knew they were infected with a sexually transmissible infection the penalty is up to 20 pu.

It is presumed that the sex worker, sex work service provider or manager knew about the infection unless they believed on reasonable grounds that regular blood tests and swab tests have been conducted and there was no sexually transmissible infection.

Sex workers must undertake blood tests every three months for HIV and other sexually transmissible infections. Regular swab tests are also required; a definite time period has not been clarified but will be published in the Victoria Government Gazette. A medical certificate is proof of these tests and the results.

Brothel rooms used for sex work must:

  • have sufficient lighting to enable sex workers to check for readily evident signs of sexually transmissible infection;
  • have a safer-sex sign containing an illustration that depicts the whole or a portion of an adult male wearing a condom.

Not complying with these requirements is an offence; the penalty for each breach is up to 40 pu.

Escort agencies must provide sex workers with a free supply of condoms and water-based lubricant.

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Fines, infringements and criminal law