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Western Australian Law and Sex Worker Health (LASH) Study 2.0



Project status


Ethics approval

Curtin University’s Human Research Ethics Committee approved this study (HRE2016-0078).


Associate Professor Linda Selvey (Curtin University), Dr Jonathan Hallett (Curtin University), Dr Roanna Lobo (Curtin University), Ms Kahlia McCausland (Curtin University), Ms Julie Bates (Urban Realists Planning & Health Consultants), Professor Basil Donovan (University of New South Wales).

Brief overview

The LASH 2.0 Study was conducted in 2016 and builds on the 2007 LASH Study, focusing on the whole of Western Australia, and spanning the wider sex industry including private workers, men and transgender workers. This project aimed to investigate the impact of the law on Western Australian sex workers; their health and safety; and the intersections between sex workers, health service providers and Police. It is hoped that the information collected through this study will contribute to decisions about the provision of services to sex workers and to inform any future legislation relating to sex work.


  • Describe the size and types of sex worker services in Western Australia including brothels; escort services; private and street-based workers; workers from non‐English speaking backgrounds; female, male and transgender workers.
  • Assess the health of sex workers including sexual health, mental health, injuries and violence.
  • Assess the access of sex workers working in a range of settings to health promotion and health and safety resources.
  • Enumerate and describe Police and court charges for sex workers, their managers and their support services.
  • Compare the situation in 2016 to what was described in the 2007 LASH Study.

The study components are:

  • Environmental scan.
  • Sex worker health and safety survey and interviews.
  • Venue audit.
  • Sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne virus prevalence study.
  • Court outcome data provided by The Department of Attorney General.


Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Western Australian Department of Health.

Project outputs and impacts

Our study demonstrated a number of ways that the criminalisation of sex work in Western Australia has a negative impact on the health, safety and well-being of sex workers. This includes criminalisation being used as an excuse for abuse by clients of sex workers; a reluctance of sex workers to go to the Police as victims of crime; the hidden nature of sex work in the context of private houses and massage parlours impeding access to services and health promotion; and the physical risk of street-based sex work. Decriminalisation also allows a highly visible focus on workplace health and safety in brothels and massage parlours. It is also an important step towards reducing stigma and discrimination experienced by sex workers.


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