Michelle Roberts

Michelle Roberts

Minister for Housing and Works; Indigenous Affairs; Heritage; Land Information

    New prostitution reforms to be released for public comment

    26/11/2002 2:40 PM
     
    26/11/02

    In an historic first, the State Government today released proposed new laws to control and regulate the entire sex industry in Western Australia.

    Police Minister Michelle Roberts said the comprehensive legislation covered a wide range of issues for sex workers including licensing, the location and control of brothels and the establishment of a Prostitution Control Board to oversee the sex industry in WA.

    Mrs Roberts said the proposed new laws would be released in the form of a ‘Green Bill’ (which means in a legislative format) for a three-month period of public consultation.

    “Our Government was elected on its commitment to openness and accountability and this is the first time that detailed legislation of this nature has been provided for public scrutiny before going to Parliament,” she said.

    “While there are no easy answers when it comes to controlling the sex industry in WA, our Government believes it is imperative that people have the opportunity to contribute to what is being proposed.”

    Mrs Roberts said there were more than 3,000 sex workers and approximately 75 brothels/escort agencies operating in WA. The Prostitution Control Bill 2002 would not only control and regulate the industry, but also ensure appropriate working conditions for sex workers, minimum standards of employment and compensation.

    “For too long the sex industry in Western Australia has been operating without any proper checks and balances, especially since the scrapping of the Police ‘containment policy’ under the previous government,” she said.

    “It was an election commitment by our Government to develop a comprehensive and detailed framework to enable local communities, law enforcement, health agencies and sex workers to have clear guidelines on how the sex industry will operate.”

    Mrs Roberts said the proposed legislation would incorporate the current legislation - Prostitution Control Act 2000 - which prohibited street soliciting, kerb crawling, and offences involving children in relation to prostitution.

    “Our Government has taken up the challenge and developed this legislation in liaison with Government agencies, local government and representatives of the sex industry to create clear guidelines which are not only acceptable to the community but enforceable,” she said.

    The Minister said the objectives of the legislation included:
    • licensing all persons operating in the prostitution industry;
    • safeguarding public health and community safety against adverse effects of prostitution;
    • making provisions for the welfare, occupational safety and health and work conditions of prostitutes;
    • introducing control measures to enable local government to regulate and control the location of brothels and prostitution agencies;
    • protecting children and vulnerable persons from exploitation;
    • initiating controls over the management and ownership of premises to deter organised crime; and
    • providing for the regulation of advertising relating to the prostitution industry.
    Prostitution Control Board

    A Prostitution Control Board will be created to monitor and implement the regulatory process. The board will issue licences, for a fee, to people and businesses who intend to work in the industry. The board will include:
    • a chairperson who must be, or have been, a barrister or solicitor of the Supreme Court for not less than eight years or a practising barrister of the High Court for not less than eight years;
    • the Health Commissioner;
    • the Police Commissioner;
    • a nominee of the Minister for Local Government;
    • a medical practitioner; and
    • a community representative.
    Licensing and organised crime

    The legislation contains provisions to safeguard against the involvement of organised crime in the prostitution industry. The board has been provided with unfettered discretion to issue, suspend or revoke licences and its decisions will not be open to review. The independence of the board is considered necessary due to the nature of the activity being regulated and particularly the need to empower the board to prevent organised crime from being involved in prostitution.

    Health provisions

    Under the proposed legislation it will be an offence for a person who has a sexually transmissible disease to act or offer to act as a prostitute. It will also be an offence for a person who knows he/she has a sexually transmissible disease to invite or allow another person to act as a prostitute for them.

    While there will be no mandatory health checks for prostitutes, the Prostitution Control Board will be able to order a prostitute to have a medical examination if they suspect a prostitute has a sexually transmissible disease.

    Town Planning Schemes

    Locating a brothel or prostitution agency in a residential zone will not be permitted under this Bill. However, the use of land in a ‘light and service’ industry zone or an ‘industry ‘zone will be allowed if the land is not within 300m of an education centre, a place of worship, and licensed premises or land used for a community purpose.

    Advertising

    The proposed regulations outline codes of conduct that must be adhered to in the advertising of prostitution services. For example, all advertising must include the following:
    • a valid prostitution licence number which has been allocated to the prostitution business or self-employed sole operating prostitute by the Prostitution Control Board;
    • must not contain photographic or other pictorial representation of a person (whether real or symbolic) unless the photograph or picture is restricted to the head and shoulders of the person;
    • will be restricted to a size limit;
    • must not refer to the race, colour or ethnic origin of the person offering prostitution services or refer to any of those matters in the name of an escort agency or brothel; and
    • must not refer to the age of the person offering prostitution services.
    Penalties

    The following proposed penalties will apply to those who operate in the prostitution industry without a licence:
    • a prostitute - up to two years’ imprisonment;
    • a person who carries on a business as a brothel operator or prostitution agent - up to 14 years’ imprisonment;
    • a person who acts as a prostitution manager - up to three years’ imprisonment; and
    • a person who acts as a prostitution driver - up to two years’ imprisonment.
    Additionally, to reinforce the importance of the licensing system, there will be a penalty of a fine or up to 12 months’ imprisonment for anyone who carries a false licence, destroys a licence or claims they have a licence.

    For further information or a copy of the proposed legislation please call the Office of the Minister for Police on 9213 6600.

    Minister's office: 9213 6600