Sex Work Act 1994 (review and inquiries)

VCAT can review certain decisions made by the Business Licensing Authority or the Secretary to the Department of Health under the Sex Work Act 1994.

VCAT can also conduct inquiries into the conduct of licensed service providers or approved managers, or who were licensed or approved at the time of the alleged contravention, at the request of the Director of Consumer Affairs, the Chief Commissioner of Police or other authorised person.

Review applications

Cases we can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review if you are a person whose interests are affected by a decision by the Business Licensing Authority related to:

  • Licences, including how they are considered, whether they are granted or refused, amendments made to them and whether they are cancelled or renewed.
  • Manager approvals, including whether they are granted or refused or renewed, amendments made to them, and permissions granted after a manager’s approval has been cancelled

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review of a decision by the Secretary to the Department of Health about exemptions that have been granted from the operation of the Act.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

If you have a decision document, use it to help you complete the VCAT application form and attach a copy of the document to your application.

Time limits

You must make your application within 28 days after the later of the day on which

  • the decision was made, or
  • if you have requested a statement of reasons under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act, the statement of reasons is given to you or you are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

You may be able to apply for an extension to this time limit.

What can VCAT order?

Unless the relevant Act of Parliament gives us different powers, VCAT can:

  • affirm the original decision, in which case the original decision will stand
  • vary the decision
  • set aside the decision and substitute our own decision
  • set aside the decision and remit (send back) the matter for reconsideration by the decision maker giving directions or recommendations
  • invite the decision-maker to reconsider their decision at any time during the case .

Inquiries

VCAT can conduct inquiries into the conduct of licensed service providers or approved managers under the Sex Work Act 1994.

If the inquiry is about your conduct, you will be a party to the proceeding.

Cases we can hear

Only the Director of Consumer Affairs, the Chief Commissioner of Police or other authorised person may ask VCAT to conduct an inquiry to determine whether disciplinary action should to be taken against a licensed service provider or approved manager.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

What can VCAT order?

The Act sets out specific reasons why disciplinary action may be taken.

For licensees, the grounds concern matters such as: how sex work premises have been used; whether the licensee has been charged with or convicted of or found guilty of specified offences; how the sex work business have been managed or whether drug-related or migration offences have been committed on the sex work premises. See section 48(3) of the Sex Work Act 1994 for the detail of the grounds.

For approved managers, the grounds concern whether the approved manager has been charged with or convicted of or found guilty of certain offences, how the sex work business have been managed or whether drug-related or migration offences have been committed on the sex work premises. See section 54(3) of the Sex Work Act 1994 for the detail of the grounds.

VCAT must decide whether one or more of these grounds have been proved and, if so, decide what action should to be taken. VCAT may make one or more of these orders:

  • cancelling or suspending licenses or manager approvals
  • ordering that the person be ineligible to hold a licence or be approved, either temporarily or permanently
  • imposing conditions or restrictions
  • requiring the payment of a penalty
  • requiring the licensee or manager to perform or not perform specific tasks.

See section 48A for licensees and section 54A for approved managers for the detail of the orders VCAT can make. Under amendments to the Act effective June 2016, we can make the orders against a person who was a licensee or approved manager at the time of the alleged contravention of the Act, even if the person is not a licensee or approved manager at the time any action is taken.