Legalisation/Decriminalisation of Prostitution

The legalisation of prostitution is a model of state regulation in which brothels apply for licenses. Decriminalisation treats prostitution as any other business, which are subject to local planning laws. CATWA opposes both of these models. Instead, CATWA supports the decriminalisation of all women in prostitution, and the penalising of buyers and pimps.

Prostitution legislation in each State and Territory 

A collection of newspaper articles on prostitution in Australia  

Prostitution in New Zealand   

Legalisation of Prostitution in Victoria

Victoria was the first state in Australia to legalise brothel prostitution in 1984 and is promoted as a ‘best-practise’ model for other Australian states and also countries around the world. Since then, the ACT (1992) and Queensland (1999) have legalised brothel prostitution, NSW has decriminalised prostitution (1995), and legalisation is currently being debated in Western Australia.

The Victorian Government’s decision to legalise prostitution was based on the belief that legalisation would:

- contain the growth of both brothel and street prostitution

- reduce the illegal industry (eg. women in street prostitution would be able to move into legal brothels)

- eliminate the involvement of organised crime in prostitution

- end child prostitution and sex trafficking, and

- make prostituted women safer

Legalisation was also seen as an approach based on harm minimisation, which would help to reduce the social problems and human rights abuses associated with prostitution.

However, legalisation has not only failed to achieve these intended aims, but has in fact made the situation worse in each of these cases, while also creating new problems.