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Safe Houses

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Are safe houses legal?

Safe houses are businesses that rent out rooms for a short time to sex workers—usually street workers —and their clients. As businesses they may need planning approval as a hotel and/or brothel.

Are safe houses covered by the same laws as brothels?

Sexual services are provided in safe houses, so the council may define them as a brothel. They are likely to need development approval as brothels do.

Does a safe house have to provide injecting equipment and fit bins?

Under NSW occupational health and safety laws, the operators of safe houses are responsible for the health and safety of all people on the premises, including employees (front-of-house, managers and security) and sex workers, their clients and visitors.

Where injecting equipment is used in safe houses and other sex industry premises, the operators need to provide safe storage and disposal systems. You can find out more about supply and disposal issues from:

  • the local needle and syringe program (NSP)
  • WorkCover, or
  • the local council’s sharps management plan, if there is one.