Advertising sex work

Advertising sex work is complex and governed by both the SW Act and SW Regulations. According to the SW Regulations, advertisements:

must contain the letters “SWA” followed by the sex worker number allocated by the BLA. The text must be readable and cannot be smaller than the smallest font on the advertisement, or seven point type (whichever is larger);

must not be larger than 18 cm by 13 cm, unless it appears outdoors, in electronic communication or on the internet. If two or more advertisements are published in the same publication, the whole size of all the advertisements cannot be more than 18 cm by 13 cm. For more information, see regulation 11 of the SW Regulations;

must not be published through radio, television, film or video recording;

must not refer to the health of the person providing sexual services;

may contain references to the sexual orientation, race, colour or ethnic origin of the person offering sexual services;

may state that safer sexual practices are engaged in and that condoms are always used;

can only contain pictures of a person’s head and shoulders. That person must have provided written consent and been provided a copy of that consent. If the advertisement is published on the internet, pictures are not restricted to the head and shoulders, but cannot show:

a person’s bare sexual organs, buttocks or anus, or frontal nudity of the genital region, or

bare breasts, or

a sexual act or simulated sexual act, or

a person under the age of 18 years.

The penalty for each breach of these regulations is 40 penalty units.

Under the SW Act, advertisements must not:

describe the services offered;

use the word “massage”, “masseur”, “remedial” or any other words that state or imply that the business provides massage services;

publish a statement that is likely to induce a person to seek employment as a sex worker independently or in a brothel or escort agency.

The penalty for each of these offences is 40 penalty units.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) enforces the SW Regulations. CAV can contact sex work service providers that breach the SW Regulations; CAV gives the providers an opportunity to rectify the breaches before further action is taken. If you are contacted by CAV, phone a lawyer (see Legal services that can help).

More information about sex work and advertising is available at www.skls.org.au/sex-work-advertising.