SEX parlours are opening throughout Melbourne in huge numbers – more than 2500 are now registered to operate freely across suburban locations.
Figures obtained from the Victorian Government show 2530 people were registered to offer owner-operated sex services, often doing business out of private homes and small shops.
Industry insiders fear they are dodging licensing requirements by registering as sole traders rather than full-scale brothels, which are monitored more closely.
At least 214 people applied to operate small sex businesses last year.
There are also an estimated 400 illegal brothels currently in Melbourne.
The combination has raised fears the sex industry is not being properly policed.
The Business Licensing Authority – the State Government body responsible for registering the owner-operated sex services – refused Herald Sun requests to list the suburbs where the businesses operate.
Unlike brothels, owner-operated sex businesses making applications do not need to pass background or medical checks.
Australian Adult Entertainment Industry president William Albon said small-scale brothels could be operated by criminal groups and pose health risks to guests.
“The BLA now admits to exempting more than 2500 persons. (The) AAEI think the number is much higher, possibly as high as 7000.
“This is a calamity,” Mr Albon said.
“The BLA do not know who these people are, what their background is or how they’re trading. There are quite possibly many persons connected with organised crime,” he said.
“They might be drug dealers. They could be involved in abuse of the migration program, including the trafficking of women,” Mr Albon said.
“They might be engaging in inducing under-age persons into the sex industry.”
A government spokeswoman said that while 2530 people were registered to operate small sex shops, there was nothing to indicate that all were still in business.
Owners were not allowed to employ fellow prostitutes.
According to government figures, there were 98 legal brothels in Victoria.
There are 11 brothels in South Melbourne, four in Dandenong, and three in Richmond and Collingwood.