Michelle Roberts

Michelle Roberts

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

    New prostitution laws introduced into State Parliament

    2/04/2003 4:22 PM

    After nearly 30 years of previous governments failing to deliver, the State Government today detailed wide-ranging new laws to control and regulate the sex industry in Western Australia.

    Police Minister Michelle Roberts today introduced the Prostitution Control Bill 2003 into Parliament, saying the comprehensive new laws would address issues such as the location and control of brothels and the establishment of a Prostitution Control Board to oversee the sex industry in WA.

    “This is landmark legislation,” Mrs Roberts said.

    “The State is introducing the most significant changes to WA’s prostitution laws in more than 100 years.

    “For too long the community has been poorly served by inappropriate and inadequate laws regarding prostitution.

    “Since 1975 our State had been largely operating under the infamous ‘Containment Policy’ - a superficial bandaid solution to a major social problem in our community.

    “An attempt by the previous Government did not go far enough and today our Government is honouring an election commitment by introducing practical and workable new laws to address this very serious community issue.”

    Mrs Roberts said, unlike previous governments, there had been widespread community consultation on the drafting of the legislation.

    The Minister said the new laws incorporated significant changes from the Prostitution Control Green Bill 2002 that were raised by community groups during the public consultation period.

    “There were more than 200 submissions on the Bill and we have listened to those proposals and significantly changed the new laws to reflect the community response,” she said.

    ”One of the key changes is that sex workers will not have to be licensed or carry identity cards, but owners and operators of brothels will. We have also included the right of appeal against decisions made by the Prostitution Control Board. In addition, we have also increased the penalties for inducing children into prostitution.

    “Our Government has developed these new laws 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.”

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

    The objectives of the new legislation include:
    • safeguarding public health and community safety against 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 established to monitor and implement the regulatory process. The board will issue licences, for a fee, to businesses intending to work in the industry. The board will include:
    • a chairperson;
    • the Health Commissioner;
    • the Police Commissioner;
    • a nominee of the Minister for Local Government;
    • a medical practitioner; and
    • a representative with knowledge of prostitution matters.
    Under the new laws, the board’s decision will be subject to review by the State Administrative Tribunal when that body is established. As an interim measure, an appeal may be made to the District Court.

    The grounds for appeal include decisions by the board to:
    • refuse to give reasons or adequate reasons for a decision;
    • revoke, suspend, refuse to grant;
    • decision to refuse to renew a licence;
    • decision to place conditions or restrictions on a licence.

    Individual prostitutes, including self-employed sole prostitutes, will not be licensed and therefore will not have to carry identity cards.

    Brothels and prostitution agencies will be required to be licensed and pay a licensing fee to the Prostitution Control Board.

    The licensing requirements are included to safeguard against the involvement of organised crime in the prostitution industry.

    Health provisions

    Under the proposed legislation it will be mandatory for prostitutes to use a condom. 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 persons who know they have 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

    The proposed legislation prevents new brothels from setting up in residential areas to protect local communities. Under this Bill, the use of land in an ‘industry’ zone will be permitted if the land is not within 300m of an education centre, a place of worship or land used for a community purpose. There are also provisions for the ‘discretionary use’ of land in other zones, such as commercial zones, subject to the approval of the relevant local council.

    Local government may vary the 300m setback in consideration of individual or special circumstances which justify the change.


    The Prostitution Control Bill 2003 provides for strict controls on the content and means of publishing advertising relating to prostitution. Regulations will ban the use of particular words and phrases.

    Prostitution businesses and prostitutes will also be able to advertise on the Internet subject to the board being notified and the advertisement complying with the prescribed requirements.


    The following proposed penalties will apply to those who operate in the prostitution industry without a licence:
    • 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
    • causing, permitting or seeking to induce a child to act as a prostitute - up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
    Minister's office: 9213 6600