Kingston Council leads call for state-wide crackdown on illegal ‘massage parlour’ brothels
20 October 2017
Kingston Council has called for better resourcing for Victoria Police to tackle an influx of illegal brothels across Melbourne’s suburbs.
Kingston Council has taken action recently against a number of illegal brothels operating as massage parlours close to homes, shops and schools.
At today’s Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) State Council, Kingston Council successfully called for support for a campaign to have the State Government take a lead role in cracking down on illegal ‘massage’ businesses across Victoria.
Kingston Mayor David Eden said this was a growing problem across Melbourne that could not be tackled by local councils alone.
“Kingston Council has successfully prosecuted four illegal brothels in recent months and we’re investigating five more, but each case is complex and costly,” Cr Eden said. “And the businesses may simply move to another area.”
“We need a state-led approach that uses the expertise of Victoria Police to shut these illegal operators down for good.
Cr Eden said the Sex Work Act gives significant power to Victoria Police to investigate these matters and police should be given resources to lead a city-wide crackdown on illegal brothels posing as massage businesses.
“Licensing of brothels is the responsibility of the state government with direct input from Victoria Police – therefore it makes sense for the same parties to oversee enforcement of that licensing.”
“Local Councils are not equipped to deal with operators who may be involved in more serious criminal activities not can we address the potential exploitation of illegal brothel workers or provide appropriate support structures when required.
Kingston Council has also written to the Victorian Minister for Police calling for appropriate resourcing for Victoria Police to address this significant issue.
Kingston Council’s MAV State Council motion:
Motion: That the State Government review enforcement of the Sex Work Act 1994 in order to establish and appropriately resource an interagency taskforce to successfully prosecute unlawful operations establishing in shopping areas and near schools as ‘massage’ businesses, given the significant Public Health and Wellbeing risks to the Victorian community.
Council Rationale: Kingston City Council has spent substantial resources over recent months seeking a number of declarations from the Magistrates Court to declare a range of premises a proscribed brothel. Kingston City Council holds the following concerns that it suspects are consistent more broadly across the Victorian Local Government sector:
• Our Councils actions will likely just push this activity into other Local Governments areas.
• Community feedback reflects a strong perception that investigating and prosecuting these matters are more appropriately undertaken by Victoria Police and Director of Public Prosecutions.
• The potential that parties involved in conducted these illegal activities may also be involved in more serious criminal activity known to Commonwealth / State Police and Councils involved inadvertently puts at risk our Officers and Investigators.
• Part 3 of the Sex Work Act 1994 makes clear that the responsibility for licensing legal brothels sits with the State Government. In this instance the level charged with licensing lawful operations should also be charged with regulating unlawful conduct.
• The ability of Victoria Police to conduct, through its formal media channels a more appropriately scaled campaign to build industry and community awareness.
• Concerns around the potential for exploitation of parties employed in unlawful operations and limited capacity or experience within Local Government to provide the appropriate support structures