Victorian sex workers will have the same rights as any other employee as the state government moves to decriminalise the industry.
Under the move, a range of reforms will be implemented over the next two years to increase safety, reduce stigma and improve access to government health and justice services.
A central Victorian sex worker, who does not wish to be named for privacy, has welcomed the changes and said they were long overdue.
"It's about time sex work comes out of the closet," she said. "The sex industry has been around for a really long time, it's one of the oldest industries in the world and has never been looked upon nicely.
"It's about time it's getting recognised by the state government but it will never be fully accepted by a lot of people but everyone's entitled to their own feelings."
The current sex work regulatory system has not been updated for close to three decades and sex workers have reported working conditions as unsafe, violence, deterrents to reporting violence, and a lack of compliance with safe-sex measures.
After a targeted review of sex work regulation by Member for Northern Metropolitan Region Fiona Patten, the government will remove offences and criminal penalties for consensual sex work and repealing public health offences.
The Bendigo sex worker has been working across the region for six years and is self-employed. While she has never faced violence, she believes the decriminalisation of the industry will help those less educated than herself.
"I've had no problems with safety but you do get people who you may feel uncomfortable with," she said.
"In Bendigo, there are a lot of sex workers but a lot of them aren't legitimate and they can cause problems for people like me.
There needs to be more contact and education for people who don't know the industry and I think there needs to be more consultations from the government as to how they will implement these measures.
"When you're in a situation, you're on your own, so I'm not sure how they can improve safety.
"I've got to protect myself, my reputation and my clients no matter what."
Further reforms include repealing the Sex Work Act 1994 to instead regulate sex work through existing government agencies and business regulation, and updating and modernising planning, public health and anti-discrimination laws.
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The sex worker said there needs to be some serious updates in the industry, and the coronavirus pandemic has uncovered numerous problems for her.
"Everything needs to be updated," she said. "For example, the Covid times have been rough but I had trouble with my license number which I need to put an ad in paper.
"I rang up the Fair Work offices to sort it out and they were closed and then I tried emailing and that got me no where.
"Where does that leave us? This work is my income."
Decriminalisation recognises that sex work is legitimate work and should be regulated through standard business laws, like all other industries in the state.
It is hoped the state government changes will go towards reducing the stigma around the profession, something the Bendigo sex worker said is long overdue.
"This wasn't an easy profession to get into as people look down on it," she said.
"You're always going to get people not liking it. Sex workers will always have dark rings around them with a lot of people."
These changes bring Victoria into line with other jurisdictions, including New South Wales who successfully decriminalised sex work in 1995.
The Victorian Government is inviting feedback to inform the implementation of the sex work decriminalisation reforms through engage.vic.gov.au/sex-work-decriminalisation.