Decriminalization of Sex Work in Australia

May 5, 2023

Laws surrounding decriminalization of sex work in Australia vary depending on the territory. Some territories have adopted legal models, others have decriminalized models, and in many places sex work is still largely criminalized. Even within the different decriminalized models, there are still laws that prohibit or limit solicitation and street based sex work. It’s also important to note that while decriminalization eliminates laws that specifically criminalize sex work, it does not leave sex work exempt from other laws, meaning sex work is still regulated as any other business would be and certain laws still apply.

If you’re thinking that this sounds complicated, that’s because it is! Finding systems that work to benefit complex human networks takes work and nuance, go figure.

The movement for the decriminalization of sex work is making major headway in Queensland, Australia after the Queensland Law Reform Commission recommended adopting a decriminalized model. The government has expressed their openness to the recommendation and it’s looking like sex work will be decriminalized in Queensland. This is a win for SWers there and everywhere. We’re all in this together (our apologies for quoting the throwback High School Musical in the year 2023).

This resource guide lays out exactly how each Australian territory applies sex work laws and is a great guide for understanding the impacts of the different models. Looking at how the different sex work models apply in the various territories of Australia is interesting and helpful, especially for those of us who live and work in the United States, where it’s looking like decriminalization measures will vary state by state.