Brimbank Council’s proactive action against alleged illegal brothels in Brimbank has led to a recent shutdown of two illegal operations in Deer Park and St Albans.
Last month court cases for two of the alleged brothels Council was investigating were heard at the Sunshine Magistrate’s Court, and Council was successful on both matters.
According to the court judgement, the sites at 1/87 Station Road, Deer Park and at 10C East Esplanade, St Albans can still operate for their legal purpose but not as brothels.
Both sites were proscribed under the Sex Work Act 1994, which means that police can charge anyone who is on the premises for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Significant fines or jail terms could be imposed. The Court also ordered the offenders to pay Council costs.
Brimbank Mayor, Cr Georgina Papafotiou said Council decided last year to initiate investigations into premises suspected of operating as illegal brothels, after the community raised concerns about illegal brothel operations.
‘This initiative included hiring independent investigators to investigate such complaints, to speed up the process of investigating and prosecuting illegal premises.
‘Council is very pleased to have two successful prosecutions on the board so far.
‘This legal decision is a win for our community, who have flagged concerns about massage parlours operating as illegal brothels.
‘With these prosecution wins, we’re sending a clear message that Council is very serious about taking stronger action against illegal operations in Brimbank,’ Cr Papafotiou said.
The site at 1/87 Station Road, Deer Park, was proscribed for a period of 12 months and the occupier of the site has been ordered by the court to pay all Council costs, which amounts to a total of $4000. This includes the cost of the external investigators and Council’s legal representation and the fees to lodge the matter at the Magistrates Court.
The site at 10C East Esplanade, St Albans, was proscribed for a period of 9 months, with costs to be agreed between the occupant and Council. Council is seeking the full costs.
Council officers have also commenced investigations on a number of other premises that are suspected of operating as illegal brothels, and will be pursuing these in the future.
As illegal brothels are a universal problem in all areas not only Brimbank, last year Council called on the State Government to provide better resources for Victoria Police to address and close down illegal brothels.
Councils have limited legislative powers to deal with such issues but Brimbank Council is keen to help support the work of the police in dealing with this problem.