NSW Health staff promote safe health practices for all sex workers, staff and clients in sex services premises in NSW, including businesses with and without council approval. Their primary role is promoting healthy and safe work practices and standards for the sex industry. A secondary role is the monitoring and investigation of public health complaints involving sex services premises and sex workers.
NSW Health offers several services.
Community Health Centres: provide a wide range of health education and counselling services to the general community.
Sexual Health Centres: provide a wide range of sexual health services to the general community, and many run free, confidential clinics for sex workers. Sexual health workers may join SWOP outreach workers on visits to the sex industry.
Public Health Units: promote public health and deal with public health complaints involving sex workers and sex industry businesses.
Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees and any other person at the workplace, including clients and visitors. To do this they must:
make available adequate information on the potential risks of substances—such as cleansers or lubricants—used in the workplace.
Workers must cooperate with employers in meeting their occupational health and safety obligations. So if an employer provides work equipment or systems of work designed to protect employees and others in the workplace, then employees must use them. For example, employees should follow procedures on how to clean sex aids or dispose of tissues and condoms. Employees must also take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others at work.
For more information:
Anyone—including sex workers, owners, clients and the general public—can make a complaint to NSW Health about the work practices of sex industry businesses and/or sex workers.
NSW Health staff try to solve any problems by talking to the owner or workers first and identifying solutions (including training and safe practices) that do not involve penalties. NSW Health staff assess complaints and may decide to investigate health matters further, or refer the matter to another authority such as the local council or WorkCover.
If they receive a complaint, NSW Health staff focus on the practices of the worker or the owner. These are the sorts of questions the department might ask:
The good news is that NSW Health staff try to solve any problems by talking to the owner and workers first and by identifying solutions—including training and safe practices. They do not just impose penalties.
NSW Health Inspectors may come to your workplace without notice (warning) but they have no authority to arrest you. If they come to your workplace:
ask them why they are there and what they are investigating—they must tell you unless doing so will compromise their investigation.
As a sex worker, if you do not comply with health regulations, you can incur large fines, possible legal action as well as separate action by WorkCover and the local council.
It is an offence for anyone with a sexually transmissible infection—whether a sex worker or a client - to have sexual intercourse with another person without first informing them about the risk of infection and without the other person accepting the risk.
NSW Health staff have the power to issue a Public Health Order against anyone who has a sexually transmissible infection (including HIV and STIs) and is behaving in a way that may endanger others’ health.
The Public Health Order can:
A sex business owner can also be fined if they know a sex worker has a sexually transmissible condition and allows the worker to work without letting clients know of the condition, and without obtaining the client’s consent to the risk of transmission before sex takes place.
provide training and resources for workers and management in safe practices.