In an Australian first, researchers at UNSW will investigate the profile of men likely to pay for sex and why they do it.

The researchers are looking for male clients and female sex workers who live in NSW to complete a questionnaire and/or do in-depth interviews. Anonymity is assured.

"Overseas research indicates that men who pay for sex are married, have money and travel a lot," says criminologist Philip Birch, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who is leading the research.

"It's probably similar here, but there really is no stereotype. They are typically in their 30s to late 50s," he says.

Until now, research in this area has relied heavily on sex workers, rather than focusing on the clients.

The project is being undertaken in partnership with the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), a health and safety organisation which supports the NSW sex industry. SWOP is a division of ACON, one of NSW's leading community-based HIV/AIDS organisations.

"Understanding the needs of clients will be extremely helpful in maintaining our successful response to preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections in the NSW sex industry," says SWOP Manager Rachel Sandford.

"We want to find out whether men are going to brothels, private workers or street-based workers and why they are using these services - it might be for the thrill or for the variety of sex," says Mr Birch, who is based in the School of Social Sciences and International Studies.

"We hope the work breaks down stereotypes about men who visit sex workers. It will give them a voice," he says. "We also want to increase the safety of sex workers and the sexual health of clients."

Those wishing to take part in the study will be able to do so anonymously by emailing: or calling 0450 492 144.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024.