Prostitution in the news in Australia
A collection of newspaper articles and TV reports that show some of the issues around prostitution in Australia. The material is arranged according to the diferent states, since prostitution laws vary with each state. There is a brief introduction to each state with links to the relevant legislation.
Brothel prostitution was legalised in Victoria in 1994 with the Prostitution Control Act 1994. In 2011, the act was ammended through the Sex Work and other Acts Ammendment Bill and it is now referred to as the Sex Work Act 1994. Brothels are regulated through Consumer Affairs Victoria (as are estate agents and motor vehicle traders) Street prostitution remains illegal. The aim of the legislation was to remove the criminal element in the industry, especially the use of underage and trafficked women, and to provide better regulation.
The articles collected here show clearly the failure of the legislation to stop the growth of unregistered brothels and that underage and trafficked women are found in legal as well as illegal brothels. They also show that corruption exists between the brothel owners and council officers in at least two areas of Melbourne.
The Flesh Trade: A series of investigative articles by Maris Beck and Nick McKenzie on prostitution in Melbourne, published in The Age newspaper in October 2011.
10 Oct 2011 Links between legal brothels and sex slavery
11 Oct 2011 Brothel fire bombing linked to turf war
11 Oct 2011 The reality of Melbourne’s sex industry
12 Oct 2011 Migration agents suspected over sex slavery
Bribery: There have been several cases of local officials being bribed by illegal brothel owners in order to prevent closure of the brothels
30 Sept 2012:Bribery charges laid against former council officer
12 Sept 2012:Brothel owner charged with briberyhttp://www.theage.com.au/victoria/accused-brothel-madam-to-face-bribery-charges-20120912-25rt8.html
16 Nov 2011:Former council officer jailed for taking bribes from illegal brothels http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/council-worker-jailed-over-brothel-bribes-20111116-1ni1a.html
Recent ongoing case of arrest of illegal brothel owners linked to sex trafficking syndicates
3 Jul 2013:Illegal brothel owners arrested – only charged with living of the earnings of crime http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/police-arrest-brothel-syndicate-members-in-raids-across-city-20130702-2pa5e.html
Sex slavery cases
13 April 2012: Sex slavery case dropped, but brothel manager deported. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/brothel-slavery-case-dropped-20120412-1wwnf.html
17 Aug 2009 First conviction for sex slavery in Victoria has sentence reduced http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/judge-cuts-womans-sex-slavery-jail-term-20090817-en6t.html
Abraham Papo Case: In 2009 Abraham Papo, a 27 year old Melbourne man, was murdered outside a brothel in South Melbourne. He had gone there to try and help a young Korean woman who was working at the brothel and who was being threatened. In 2011, an ABC Four Corners program uncovered trafficking and other crimes connected to this brothel. In 2012, a worker at the brothel was arrested and charged with the murder of Papo and was found not guilty in Oct 2013.
The following links cover the key events of this case.
8 Oct 2011: In depth article about the case http://www.theage.com.au/national/why-did-abraham-papo-die-20111007-1ldrk.html
17 Oct 2011: ABC Four Corners program “Sex Slavery” which looks at the case http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2011/10/06/3333668.htm
17 Jul 2012 Arrest of suspecthttp://www.theage.com.au/victoria/arrest-in-brothel-kill-case-20120717-22772.html
26 Feb 2013:Information from hearinghttp://www.theage.com.au/victoria/man-died-in-bid-to-free-sex-slave-20130225-2f2ax.html
28 Oct 2013 Brothel worker cleared of murder http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/brothel-worker-cleared-over-killing-20131028-2wbl4.html
28 Oct 2013 The cleared brohel worker is accused of links to a sex trafficking ring. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/cleared-brothel-worker-accused-of-link-to-sextrafficking-syndicate-20131028-2wbtf.html
Other newspaper articles relating to Victoria
17 Dec 2014 Woman found in wall cavity during brothel search
6 June 2014 Police raids on illegal brothels in Melbourne – claims of underage and trafficked women. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/police-raid-illegal-brothels-in-brunswick-and-coburg-two-women-arrested-20140606-39oej.html
2 May 2014 Consumer Affairs Victoria report show that international students are working as brothel managers in Victoria. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/more-international-students-working-as-brothel-managers-20140502-zr337.html
8 Feb 2014 70% of brothel owners who were audited were found to be breaking workplace laws. http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/vic-brothels-shortchanged-workers/story-e6frfku9-1226821250844
3 Mar 2013: Sex Industry Police Unit hampered by lack of resources – no charges in first year of operation http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/brothel-owners-say-police-sex-unit-shooting-blanks-20130302-2fdew.html
3 Oct 2012: Study finds lack of support for trafficked women http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-03/study-critical-of-support-for-trafficked-women/4292686
13 Aug 2012: Illegal brothels run from city hotels http://www.watoday.com.au/victoria/sex-and-the-city-brothels-in-cbd-hotels-investigation-finds-20120813-2444o.html
1 Dec 2011: UN Special Rapporteur says legalisation has failed in Victoria http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/un-official-urges-human-trafficking-unit-20111130-1o719.html
13 Jul 2011: Brothel worker threatened with gun for refusing unprotected sex http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/prostitute-to-sue-brothel-over-gun-20110712-1hc7n.html
NSW: Prostitution in NSW is decriminalised, with brothels coming under local council planning regualtions like any other business. Some activities remain illegal, such as child prostitution. The details of prostitution related offences are found in the Summary Offences Act 1988 (Part 3)
The collection of articles show that despite decriminaliation, illegal brothels, under the guise of massage parlours, are increasing, and sex trafficking is a serious problem.
24 May 2015 North Sydney Council launches legal action against illegal brothel that has already been served with two closure orders
5 April 2015 A consultancy group that investigated illegal brothels has closed after 10 years because there is no legal framework for using the evidence.
19 March 2015 Article about private investigators hired by councils who go undercover in illegal brothels to obtain evidence for prosecutions. It highlights the large number of massage parlours that are in fact illegal brothels.
9 March 2015 Council loses case to have illegal brothel closed
28 Sept 2014 Illegal brothel operates from site previously shut down by court. A local council building inspector received free services in return for his silence on nature of the business.
28 Sept 2104 Editorial on illegal brothels in NSW
26 May 2014 Widespread corruption and crime are problems in the NSW decriminalised system.http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/brothels-nsw-government-must-address-corruption-20140526-zro14.html
30 Mar 2014 Asian women on student visas forced to work in Sydney brothels up to 20 hrs a day. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/trafficking-women-lured-with-student-visas-forced-into-sex-slavery-20140329-35q88.html
29 March 2014 Visa scams trap Asian women in brothels
8 Mar 2014 Brothel owners who have been banned in Victoria for employing underage prostitutes are now operating brothels in NSW http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/brothel-owners-banned-in-victoria-for-employing-underage-prostitutes-now-running-big-brothels-in-sydney/story-fni0cx12-1226848537447
1 Dec 2013: Expansion of illegal brothels in Sydney http://www.theage.com.au/nsw/brothel-barons-expand-as-councils-fail-to-act-on-illegal-activities-20131130-2yi9m.html
17 Nov 2013 Illegal brothels expand in Sydney. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/new-redlight-zone-as-illegal-sex-trade-expands-north-20131116-2xnlb.html
Chee Mei Wong case. In 2013, Chee Mei Wong was charged with sexual slavery offences involving Malaysian students who were required to work 20 hour shifts in a Sydney brothel to pay off $5000 debt bondage. She was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 6 years jail.
5 Feb 2013 Report from trial http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/students-forced-into-sex-acts-court-told-20130204-2dumq.html
6 Feb 2013 Evidence from one of the trafficked women http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sex-worker-lured-with-study-tour-court-told-20130205-2dwit.html
10 Feb 2013: Further trial report http://www.theage.com.au/nsw/the-lure-of-a-fresh-start-ended-at-a-north-shore-brothel-court-told-20130209-2e563.html
3 April 2013 Chee Mei Wong found guilty of keeping 6 Maylaysian students in sexual servitude http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/madam-convicted-of-enslaving-students-at-north-shore-brothel-20130402-2h55w.html
5 July, she is jailed for six years. www.smh.com.au/nsw/jail-for-brothel-keeper-who-enslaved-women-20130705-2phgf.html
28 May 2012: Australia’s biggest brothel getting planning permission in Sydney. It will have 40 rooms. http://www.theage.com.au/business/australias-biggest-brothel-poised-to-get-planning-nod-20120528-1zdq2.html
25 May 2012 Child prostitution ring in Sydney uncovered http://www.theage.com.au/nsw/six-charged-over-sydney-child-prostitution-ring-20120525-1z8hz.html
10 May 2010: Brothel owners charged with keeping sex slaves
QLD Brothel prostitution and single operators were legalised in Queensland in 1999 with the Prostitution Act 1999. The Act was ammended in 2010.Brothels are licensed by the Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA). Street prostitution, unlicensed brothels, massage parlour prostitution and outcalls from licensed brothels remain illegal. Some of the problems in Queensland are the growth of the industry in mining towns because of the mining boom, and the continuing illegal sector.
16 Apr 2013 A Brisbane woman is jailed for 9 years for trafficking her nine year old daughter from Thailand to work in her prostitution business. This is the first successful conviction for child sex trafficking in Australia. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/brisbane-mother-jailed-for-child-trafficking-of-daughter-nine/story-e6frg6nf-1226621533056
30 Sept 2013 New brothel, with mostly Asian women, is to be closely scrutinised for signs of sex trafficking. http://www.ipswichadvertiser.com.au/news/tight-watch-qld-brothel-mostly-asian-sex-workers/2036226/
10 Jul 2012: Sex trafficking increases in Qld mining towns
30 Jan 2011 The PLA chairman gives evidence of the flourishing illegal sector. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/illegal-prostitution-exploding-in-queensland/story-e6freoof-1225996684163
15 Aug 2009 Research by Qld academics shows most prostitution is in illegal brothels. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-08-15/prostitution-laws-failing-sex-workers/1391654
South Australia: Brothels are illegal in South Australia as is soliciting in public places, receiving money from the prostitution of another person and procuring. There have been several attempts recently to decriminalise prostitution, the latest in July 2015 with the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill 2015
11 Nov 2013 The 2013 Bill likely to fail through lack of time http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sa-labor-mp-steph-keys-third-attempt-at-decriminalising-prostitution-and-sex-work-destined-to-fail/story-fni6uo1m-1226757581984
16 May 2013: Yet another attempt by MP Steph Key to decriminalise prostitution in SA. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/south-australia-labor-mp-steph-key-makes-new-attempt-to-decriminalise-prostitution/story-e6frea83-1226644447085
15 Nov 2012: The 2012 Sex Work Reform Bill fails by one vote. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/push-to-decriminalise-prostitution-in-south-australia-fails-by-one-vote/story-e6frea83-1226517390642
West Australia: Prostitution in this state comes under the Prostitution Act 2000. While prostitution itself is legal, many activities associated with it, such as brothels, soliciting in a public place and pimping, are illegal. The Prostitution Bill 2011 was introduced to regulate the industry and allow brothels in non residential area. Following a period of consultation it was presented, with changes, in parliament in Nov 2011. It failed to gain majortity support. One of the major problems in West Autralia is the growth of prostitution associated with the mining boom.
1 Mar 2014 Liberal MP Peter Abetz wants WA to adopt the Nordic model. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/news/a/21763602/throwaway-girls-why-mp-wants-sex-trade-reform/
17 Feb 2012: Fly-in fly-out mine workers driving demand in Geraldton http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/news/12936946/sex-worker-reveals-industry-truth/
8 Feb 2012: Prostitution in Geraldton http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/news/12843315/illegal-sex-trade-confirmed/
20 Aug 2011: Women from Hong Kong coming to WA on working holiday visas to work in sex industry http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/10076082/women-encouraged-to-come-to-wa-to-work-as-masseurs/
ACT: Prostitution was decriminalised in 1992 with the passage of the Prostitution Act 1992. Brothels and escort agencies are legal but must be registered, as must the prostitutes, through the Office of Regulatory Services A major review of the legislation took place in 2011 and the report was presented in 2012. No chnges have yet been made.
In early 2014, two ACT politicians, Giulia Jones and Vicki Dunne went to Europe to look at prostitution in various countries. On their return, Giulia Jones called for the establishment of exit programs, and an investigation into illegal prostitution and advertising of sexual services in the ACT
11 Apr 2012: Brothel owner found guilty of keeping sex slave
10 Apr 2012: Brothel owner charged with slavery http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/brothel-madam-in-control-20120410-1wm9d.html
1 Oct 2010: Review of legislation followin the death of a 17 year old woman in a Canberra brothel http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-30/sex-trade-laws-under-review/2279780
Northern Territory: Brothel prostitution is illegal under the Prostitution Regulation Act 2004 but sole operators are legal but unregulated. Street prostitution is illegal. Escort agencies are legal and must be registered with the Northern Territory Licensing Commission. Sole operators and workers in escort agencies must be registered with the police. One of the major problems in the Northern Territory is the targetting of indigenous women for sex by white men.
4 May 2013:
Homeless Aboriginal women targeted for sex by white men in Darwin http://www.news.com.au/national/paul-toohey-darwin/story-e6frfkp9-1226634776568
Tasmania: The Sex Industry Offences Act 2005 regulates prostitution in Tasmania. Prostitution is legal, but brothels and street prostitution are illegal. Self employed operators are legal and may operate with one other person. There have been reviews of the legislation in 2008 and 2012, but to date, no legislative changes have occurred.
21 August 2013 Prostitution of 12 year old leads to law change in Tasmania
2014 Article about the women trafficked from Asia to Australia for sexual servitude. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/asian-slaves-to-the-australian-sex-industry/story-e6frg8h6-1226814033674
2013 Single mothers have their welfare benefits reduced and some resort to prostitution and strip. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/brothels-say-welfare-cuts-push-mums-to-sex-work-20130120-2d19x.html
Sex industry wants foreign sex workers to come to Australia on 457 visa http://www.news.com.au/national/foreign-prostitutes-wanted-on-457-skilled-work-visas/story-fncynjr2-1226660651907
On 6 April 2016, France voted to adopt the Nordic model. Read the statemenet by CATW International on this historic legislation.