Marcelle said he constantly complained to police, but was told they could only issue hour move-on notices to prostitutes, unless they were caught with drugs. A nearby business owner, who did not want to be identified, said the street workers were some of her best customers. To look at them, you would never know what they do. Some of them are very well presented. A local service station attendant said he saw prostitutes in the area every day, at all hours.
He said they regularly drank and smoked with men parked in the service station car park. He often had to clean up condoms and alcohol bottles littering the car park, after complaints from his customers. While residents claimed police were not tackling the prostitution problem, WA Police Commander Gary Budge said police were not turning a blind eye.
A study of prostitution in Australian capital cities by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of New South Wales found Perth had 34 brothels, all operating illegally, many with recognisable storefronts and apparently tolerated by police. According to the study, street prostitution accounted for less than 5 per cent of the sex industry in Perth, though street workers were a major concern for health and support services.
The research also found sex workers were increasingly using the internet and SMS to contact clients. Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said police were hamstrung by "deficient laws".
Premier Colin Barnett told parliament that legislation to control prostitution would be introduced late this year or early next. It was expected to allow licensed brothels in non-residential areas and remove them from the suburbs. Perth Now Click to open navigation. Brazen street prostitutes working close to Perth police HQ. Dangerous Fury over cruel prank on UK cyclist. Fire damage Arson suspected in Butler house blaze.
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Roo reveals mental health battle. Offensive signs WA mining company accused of racism. Small business operators two people working separately or jointly and solo workers are exempt from requiring a licence to operate legally but still need to register their service.
Small business operators also need a planning permit for their premises if they are providing services there Sex Work Act , ss 23, Nothing in the Act specifically about private workers but see Criminal Code Act Compilation , s 3 above.
Up to two sex workers can work together but cannot manage or employ each other Sex Industry Offences Act , s 3 1. Local councils approve business applications see Restricted Premises Act , s 17 1 above. Business Licensing Authority grants licences for brothels and escort services and maintains the register of private workers.
The Office of Regulatory Services is responsible for registering brothels, escort agencies and sole operators. Director-General of Licensing formerly the Northern Territory Licensing Commission grants licences to escort agencies. All staff of escort agencies must be registered with NT Police and receive a certificate from the Police Commissioner.
At the time of writing, the Prostitution Bill WA , which proposes major amendments to the Prostitution Act , including the legalisation of prostitution under a licensing system, was before the WA Legislative Assembly. This table outlines the content of legislation in each state and territory regarding sex work but does not include sex work provisions within common law.
Sex workers can also be encouraged to sign contract agreements verifying this relationship Murray However, it has been argued that the level of control managers have over when sex workers work and the services they provide more closely resembles the work arrangements held in common law to be those of employer and employee Murray This includes fines for being late to work, not being allowed to sell sex services independently outside the workplace and control over the nature of the services sex workers provide, the amount they can charge and how long they work Murray ; Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council This leaves sex workers without the freedoms associated with being an independent contractor, yet without the benefits of being an employee Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee This is a situation where an employment relationship is disguised as one of client and independent contractor with negative consequences for the employee ABCC Much of the existing knowledge of sex workers has relied on input from peer and outreach workers, sexual health workers and sex workers themselves.
Convenience or snowball sampling, where participants are recruited in a non-random manner using existing knowledge or social networks, is the main methodology used in the research and surveys referenced in this section.
This dearth of population-based studies on sex workers internationally and within Australia is primarily a result of restricted access to sex workers for research and survey purposes due to:. The majority of sex workers are female Donovan et al.
Those who identify as transgender and male sex workers are difficult to access for research as they are more likely to initiate contact with clients electronically eg by phone and online and work as private escorts rather than in a brothel-based environment Donovan et al. Research suggests that the majority of sex workers are aged between 20 and 39 years Donovan et al.
This increase in age appeared to be driven by an increase in the age of migrant sex workers, who made up a sizeable proportion of the sex worker population in Sydney. Age distribution has also been shown to vary by sector. Only seven percent of private workers were aged 18—24 years compared with more than one-quarter of street-based and brothel workers Woodward et al. Although the results may not be representative, these findings have been replicated in studies from other states and territories.
The total number of sex workers working in Australia has been estimated to be 20, in any one year Quadara ; however the proportion of workers born outside Australia remains largely unknown. Data from the SSHC suggested that the proportion of Asian migrant sex workers ie those born in Asian countries in Sydney accessing their Chinese and Thai-language clinics increased from 20 percent to more than half from to Donovan et al.
This increase in sex workers accessing Sydney sexual health clinics was attributed to both an increase in migrant sex workers from Asia and a decrease in Australian-born sex workers Donovan et al.
It is possible that these data are biased towards Asian sex workers due to the Asian-language clinics the SSHC runs; however, the LASH research conducted in Sydney brothels in found a similar proportion of migrant sex workers from China and Thailand. SSHC data from showed that the proportions of Thai and Chinese-born sex workers had nearly reached equivalence Data from the SSHC also showed a sharp increase in the representation of South Korean women from ; by they had increased their representation to close to that of Chinese and Thai women Donovan et al.
The migrant status of sex workers in other parts of Australia varied from that found for Sydney-based sex workers. These results were said to reflect those observed for licensed brothel workers in Melbourne Donovan et al. At first glance, it appears that migrant sex workers are more common in some states and territories than others, and that the cultural background of this population also varies by jurisdiction.
However, it is difficult to ascertain whether these proportions are representative of the true migrant population at the survey sites or the ease or lack thereof of access to this population for research. A questionnaire delivered to Asian female sex workers who attended the SSHC collected similar educational measures of sex workers born in China and Thailand Pell et al. Brothel-based and private workers generally had low rates of drug use, high rates of condom use and very low rates of sexually transmitted infections or STIs Harcourt et al.
Sydney brothel workers had levels of mental health that were comparable with the general population Donovan et al. Perth-based respondents to the LASH survey reported percent condom use and experienced STIs at a rate similar to that recorded for the general population Donovan et al. Categorising sex workers by the sector in which they work for research purposes can be problematic due to the extent sex workers may work in a variety of sectors simultaneously. Although limited in number, the research surveys reviewed in this report examine the issue of violence perpetrated by clients in the workplace.
Eight percent of respondents to the LASH survey reported having experienced physical assault by clients Donovan et al. It must be noted that none of these surveys used a representative sample; therefore the proportions may not be generalisable to the entire sex worker population. It is also problematic to compare the findings of these surveys as each one differed in their sampling frameworks respondents were sampled from different states with different legal frameworks for the sex industry , sampling approaches, sample sizes and categories for the violence reported by respondents.
The legal frameworks governing the sex industry play an important role in the health and safety of sex workers. The need for legislation, police and regulatory practices to support rather than impede health promotion extends to broader issues of workplace safety regarding violence, abuse and harassment. There is the risk that sex workers working outside the legal framework face greater barriers to reporting incidents of violence or abuse, or implementing safety strategies.
However, as Quadara There were several factors that were significantly associated with the prevalence of STIs among sex workers attending the SSHC between and These included being of a younger age, being of Asian origin and using condoms inconsistently at work Donovan et al.
This result is, in part, due to the lower initial rates of condom use among Asian sex workers during the s. As consistent condom use in the workplace increased among Asian workers from 77 percent in to 95 percent in Donovan et al.
The level of victimisation from assault at work among migrant sex workers is largely unknown. A small-scale survey of Chinese-born sex workers in Australia showed that 44 percent of the 43 participants had experienced sexual assault in the workplace Jeffreys In addition to the issues affecting all sex workers with regard to reporting sexual assault and violent situations that occur while working ie the stigma associated with sex work, and the illegality of some forms of sex work in some states and territories , there are further barriers for women with diverse cultural and language backgrounds, particularly non-English-speaking backgrounds.
For women from CALD backgrounds experiencing violence, barriers to accessing support include:. These barriers for sex workers, and for CALD women generally, may intersect to prevent migrant sex workers from reporting sexual assault and abuse experienced within the workplace. Migrant sex workers working illegally in the sex industry may also have a legitimate fear of deportation or other repercussions from the authorities, which may act as a further disincentive to report these crimes or access other formal support networks.
As noted above, all surveys conducted on sex workers in Australia have included those born in countries other than Australia. However, with the exception of the SSHC surveys, there is little quantitative information specifically on temporary or permanent migrant sex workers in Australia and their experiences.
Similarly, little is known about if and how their workplace experiences differ from those of their Australian-born counterparts. In some instances, the ABS restricts its category of migrant to those who were aged more than 15 years on arrival or who arrived in Australia within a defined period ABS For the purposes of this research project, a broader definition of migrant was used.
A migrant was defined as a person who reported being born in a country other than Australia, regardless of whether Australia was their usual residence and regardless of their age on arrival.
The little research that includes sex workers born in another country suggests that migrant sex workers are not likely to be street-based sex workers and that they work predominantly in brothels Pell et al.
Aside from the issues with sex workers acting as subcontractors for commercial sex service employers, as described previously, brokered contracts or agreements involving salary reductions to pay back debt owed between migrant sex workers and their employers may also increase the risk of coercion or exploitation. More recent evidence shows that contract arrangements are indeed used by some migrant workers, particularly Thai sex workers in Sydney Pell et al. The SSHC surveys showed that in , 19 percent of Thai-speaking sex workers had been on a contract at some point and four percent of all Asian sex workers were at that time currently on a contract Pell et al.
However, it is unknown how many of these contracts were brokered by a third party or independently negotiated directly with the workplace. Coupled with a lack of knowledge of Australian laws and poor English-language skills, this debt meant that Thai sex workers were often limited in their capacity to enforce safe-sex practices. This trend of contracting sex work was not seen at the time to the same extent within migrant workers from other cultural backgrounds.
More recent research Pell et al. However, the proportion of Thai workers in who had at some stage been on a contract was still significantly higher than that of Chinese workers It should be noted that employing sex workers on a contract tied to a debt does not necessarily constitute the crime of debt bondage in and of itself; however, due to the lack of empirical information on the types of contract arrangements that are used by sex workers in Australia, it is difficult to determine what proportion of such contract arrangements could be considered a situation of debt bondage.
At the time of writing, no criminal prosecutions in Australia involving debt bondage as the primary charge have been finalised, although the majority of the small number of sexual servitude and slavery cases in the sex industry have involved elements of debt bondage IDC.
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It was held in Powell v Devereaux Supreme Court of Western Australia, 12 June , Appeal No of that the brothel keeping offence under s 76F of the Police Act now s of the Criminal Code does not extend to the running of an escort agency where the workers and clients met elsewhere. However, as noted by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, a prosecution for the offence of live on the earnings may extend to those involved in the running of an escort agency.
For private workers working from home, it is a bit of a legal grey area. Some legal rulings have given the feeling that if one worker is working from home, and it is primarily their home, then this is permissible. Section is broadly drafted and prohibits a wide variety of acts relating to premises used for the purposes of prostitution: The quotes below outline the key laws affecting street based sex worker in Western Australia.
If they are stopped within that area during that period, they may be issued with a restraining order, which prohibits them from entering a specific area for up to one year s For those street workers who live in the exclusion zone, a move on notice or restraining order may mean being unable to return to their home, resulting in disturbances to the lives of their partners and children.
Suspicion may be based on the way a person is dressed or on the person being in a particular location. If the police find anything about the person that indicates that they have the intention of engaging in sex for money, then that person can be charged. The Prostitution Act does not specify what items might constitute evidence of prostitution, but one specific item which has been used by the police as evidence of intention to engage in prostitution is a condom Contradictorily, another part of the Act states that it is an offence to engage in an act of prostitution without using a condom Prostitution Act s8.
The Prostitution Act WA provides for body searches to be carried out, but only by a person of the same sex as the person being searched s29 1. In practice this is not consistently adhered to personal observation, October The legislation also states that "cavity" searches may be performed by a doctor or nurse s29 5 and that "reasonable force" can be used by police officers to ensure that such searches are carried out s29 6. The Act does not specify that the doctor or nurse or any assisting police officers must be the same sex as the person being searched.
In other words, any woman who is suspected of an intention to engage in an act of prostitution can, quite legally, be held down by one or more male police officers while her vagina and anus are searched by a male doctor. This can occur without any charges being laid and could legitimately happen to any woman who happened to be standing on a street corner waiting for a friend or a taxi. A further section of the Act s35 provides for police officers to engage in activities that would otherwise be illegal but for which, in the context of "detecting an offence", full immunity is afforded to the police officer.
At the discretion of the Commissioner of Police, undercover officers may solicit people for the purposes of prostitution. The penalty for this is Imprisonment for 2 years. In other words if a person who is under age 18 years is found to be working as a sex worker, they can charged and sentenced to prison.
The resident said "kerb crawlers" looking for sex were more annoying than the prostitutes and she had been followed about 30 times by men looking for sex. I've lived here 10 years and I see the same girls. Another Lincoln St resident, who also did not want to be named, said the street prostitutes were a blight on what should be a quality inner-city location. Many residents said they were fed up, while others had moved out of the area to escape the scene.
A former Perth unit complex manager who would only be identified by his first name, Marcelle, said he had tried approaching the prostitutes and asking them to move on, but they refused. He then installed a spotlight in the complex. He also put up signs telling prostitutes they were not welcome and would be escorted from the premises, and installed a small camera to monitor them entering the complex.
I was always having to pick up syringes and drug bags. It was just getting beyond a joke. He said he left the area after 18 months after a child in the complex stepped on a syringe. Marcelle said he constantly complained to police, but was told they could only issue hour move-on notices to prostitutes, unless they were caught with drugs.
A nearby business owner, who did not want to be identified, said the street workers were some of her best customers. To look at them, you would never know what they do. Some of them are very well presented. A local service station attendant said he saw prostitutes in the area every day, at all hours. He said they regularly drank and smoked with men parked in the service station car park. He often had to clean up condoms and alcohol bottles littering the car park, after complaints from his customers.
While residents claimed police were not tackling the prostitution problem, WA Police Commander Gary Budge said police were not turning a blind eye. A study of prostitution in Australian capital cities by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of New South Wales found Perth had 34 brothels, all operating illegally, many with recognisable storefronts and apparently tolerated by police.
According to the study, street prostitution accounted for less than 5 per cent of the sex industry in Perth, though street workers were a major concern for health and support services. The research also found sex workers were increasingly using the internet and SMS to contact clients. Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said police were hamstrung by "deficient laws". Premier Colin Barnett told parliament that legislation to control prostitution would be introduced late this year or early next.
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