Sex Workers


Melbourne Sexual Health Centre provides confidential, free sexual health check-ups and certificates for sex workers. These check-ups are required by Victorian legislation and help to ensure any infections can be identified and treated, protecting your health.

Your confidentiality is important to us. Medicare is not used when you come to MSHC for a check-up for sex work. You can use your real name or a pseudonym (fake name) on your medical record. If using a fake name, we ask that you choose a name which will be easy for you to remember and to continue to use the same name each time to come to MSHC for medical care. Using the same name each time will allow us to accurately identify your medical record and provide you with the best medical care. Your certificate will list the name of your choice, it can be different to the name on your medical record. 

We ask for two forms of contact details, in case we need to contact you about your test results. 

In Victoria, sex work is governed by the Sex Work Act 1994 and the Sex Work Regulation 2016. As defined in the Sex Work Act 1994 Sex work means the provision by one person to, or for another person (whether or not of a different sex) of sexual services in return for payment or reward.

In Victoria, sex work is legal if the Sex Work Act (1994) is adhered to. To work you must be over 18 and the choice to be practicing sex work must be yours. It is illegal for someone else to force you into sex work.

To be legal, sex work must be carried out in brothels, through an escort agency or you can work as a private worker. All of these options must comply with the Sex Work Act (1994) and have a current license. Licenses are issued by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) and all license numbers must be preceded by the letters SWA.

Licenses must be displayed near the front entrance of premises or carried by you if you are a private worker. Brothels are also regulated by local council and require a planning permit issued by the council.

The following forms of sex work are illegal: 
  • Street sex work
  • Working in unlicensed brothels
  • Working in a premises that does not have a planning permit from the local council
  • Working in escort agencies that are not licensed
  • Working privately without being registered with the BLA
Your responsibilities as a sex worker, under the Sex Work Act (1994):

Three monthly testing for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV and a genital examination to exclude the presence of warts and herpes lesions. Swabs may be taken from your throat, vagina, cervix and or anus, and a urine test depending on your gender and sexual services that you provide. A blood test is also taken.

On your first visit to MSHC we will also check your Hepatitis B immunity. If needed, free Hepatitis B vaccination is available.

After the examination the clinician will write a certificate which states that you have attended for sexually transmitted infections (STI) screening and that tests were performed.

The Brothel’s responsibilities:

A brothel must provide you with free condoms and lubrication, clean showers and baths, a continuous supply of hot and cold water and clean linen in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act (2008).

Further information:

This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Sex workers. It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.
Last Updated November 2018