The Victorian government has decriminalised street-based sex work as part of its $11.3 million two year plan to reform the industry.
From May 10, sex workers soliciting on the street will no longer face criminal penalties in the majority of circumstances, with some exceptions.
Further measures have been introduced to protect sex workers from discrimination, with organisations now unable to refuse service to sex workers on the basis of their profession.
Amendments to advertising controls and the repealing of the exemption of small owner-operator register, which contains the details of independent sex workers, have also come into effect.
Minister for consumer affairs Melissa Horne emphasised the significance of the reform in a statement.
“Today is an important milestone for sex work decriminalisation in Victoria,” Horne said, “And another step in ensuring the industry is regulated safely and fairly.”
A Sex Work Safety Team is set to be established, part of WorkSafe, with more than $5 million worth of funding. The team’s remit will include awareness campaigns and assistance to sex workers, with part of the funding going towards training of specialist inspectors.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe at work. With a dedicated Sex Work Safety Team within WorkSafe, we’ll make sure sex work is regulated appropriately, with the best guidance and procedures in place to keep workers safe,” minister for workplace safety Ingrid Stitt said.
The next phase of the reforms is expected to come into effect later this year, including the repeal of the sex work licensing system.