Main Content Anchor

Prostitution and sex workers

There are specific laws covering prostitutes and other sex workers and their clients. Prostitution in licensed brothels is legal in Queensland, but street prostitution is illegal.
It’s against the law to:

  • publicly offer someone sex for money or money for sex
  • accept the offer
  • operate a brothel without a proper licence
  • enter or leave a brothel that is not properly licensed.

If you’re charged with an offence, you should get legal advice.

Sex workers

Queensland has strict laws about sex and sexual activity. If you’re worried about what you can and can’t do you can find out more about having sex

You can legally work as a sex worker in Queensland if you work alone (from your home, unit, motel or hotel) or if you work in a licensed brothel.

It’s illegal to publicly solicit for prostitution (eg hanging around a public place looking for clients), or for 2 or more sex workers to work out of the same place (if it’s not a licensed brothel).  

It’s illegal to allow any person under 18 into a place being used for prostitution by 2 or more prostitutes, including a licensed brothel—either as a sex worker or client.

If you’re under 18, it’s not illegal for you to work as a sex worker if you work alone (from your home, unit, motel or hotel), but it is illegal for someone to obtain prostitution from you if they know (or ought to know) that you are under 18 years of age.

If the police question you while working you don’t have to answer any of their questions but you should give your full name, age and address.

There are many health and safety issues for people working as sex workers. If you’re under 17 and you’re working as a sex worker, the police or Child Safety Services may decide that you’re at risk of harm and apply to the court for a child protection order which places you in the care of Child Safety Services. If you are in this situation you should get legal advice.

Related publications:

Sex work and the law in Queensland (Prostitution Licensing Authority)

General offences relating to prostitution (Prostitution Licensing Authority)

Sex work and the law in Queensland (Respect Inc.)

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you have questions about when you can have sex
  • you've been charged with a criminal offence.

How to get legal advice

We may give general legal advice about when you can sex and sexual activities.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Youth Advocacy Centre (YAC) is a community legal and social welfare service for young people under 17.

South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre offers basic help and advice on a range of legal matters including family law, domestic violence, child protection and youth criminal law advocacy services.

YFS Legal gives legal information and advice to young people under 25.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.

Bravehearts provides counselling and support to children, adolescents and adult survivors of child sexual assault, as well as their non-offending family members.

Zig Zag Young Womens Resource Centre has counselling, support, information, referral and other services for young women (12 to 25).

Brisbane Youth Service helps young people to find and maintain appropriate housing, address physical and mental health issues and establish successful relationships and support networks.

Family Planning Queensland has reproductive and sexual health services for women across Queensland.

Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) provides sexual health support services and advice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex Queenslanders.

Queensland health sexual health clinics have a listing of sexual health clinics across Queensland.

Immigrant Women’s Support Service offers free, confidential, practical and emotional support to immigrant and refugee women from non-English speaking backgrounds and their children who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.

Women’s InfoLink offers free and confidential information about government agencies and community services supporting women across Queensland.

Aboriginal and Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) has a range of health and medical services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the wider Brisbane community.

Indigenous youth health service has a range of services to address the health needs of homeless and at risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 12-25 years.

Child Safety After Hours Service provides 24 hour statewide services for after-hours responses to child protection matters.

Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) provides a range of support services for people from non-English speaking backgrounds including phone, face-to-face and document translation services.

1800 RESPECT provides crisis and trauma counselling services to anyone whose life has been impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Respect Inc is a non-profit community based association of past and present sex workers focused on the rights and wellbeing of sex workers in Queensland.

Back to top