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Tattooing, body modification and body piercing

Part 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) regulates body piercing and body modification such as tattooing:

Except where the tattoo is made for medical reasons and is performed or administrated by a doctor, nurse or dentist, it is an offence to perform a body modification procedure on a person under the age of 18 [s 21R]. It is also an offence to perform such a procedure on an intoxicated person [s 21Q]. However, it is a defence to a charge if the person performing the procedure can prove that at the time of the offence, they actually believed, and had reasonable cause to believe, that the person, for s 21R, was an adult; or for s 21Q, was not intoxicated.

Maximum penalty: $5 000 fine or 12 months imprisonment

Body modification procedure means—

  • tattooing; and
  • body branding; and
  • body implantation; and
  • earlobe stretching; and
  • tongue splitting; and
  • body scarification; and
  • any other procedure prescribed

    [Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 21P]

A person must not sell body modification equipment (for example, ear stretching tapers) to a person under the age of 18 [s 21T].

Maximum penalty: $2 500 fine

A person must not perform any intimate body piercing on a person under the age of 18, or any other body piercing on a person under the age of 16 without first obtaining the consent of the minor’s guardian [s 21R(2)(b)].

Maximum penalty: $5 000 fine or 12 months imprisonment

Consent, referred to above, for under 16 year olds, must be given in person or in writing, in the prescribed form, verified by statutory declaration [s 21S(1)(b)(ii)].

Maximum penalty: $5 000, Expiation fee: $315

Providing false information about age or consent of a minor or guardian is also an offence under the Act [s 21W].

Maximum penalty: $2 500

The Act requires those who offer piercing and body modification services for sale to display prescribed information [s 21U] and to keep records [s 21 V].

Maximum penalty: $1 250, Expiation fee: $160

Prescribed information is set out in the Summary Offences Regulations 2016 (SA).

Tattoo Industry Control

Under the Tattooing Industry Control Act 2015 (SA) some people are automatically prohibited from providing tattooing services, and additionally, the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs can disqualify a person from providing tattooing services.

Tattooing services is defined broadly and includes owning the business or even tattooing someone for no fee or reward [s 4].

The main groups automatically disqualified under the Act include:

  • Members or close associates of a member of declared organisations, people under control orders,and criminal organisations under Serious and Organised Crime laws [see Serious and Organised Crime];
  • Those declared and criminal organisations as a body corporate; and
  • Those disqualified under other States or Commonwealth laws [s 7(2)-(3)].

In addition to this, the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs has broad power to disqualify a person from providing tattooing services if the person has been involved in various types of criminal activity. This includes some drug offences, indictable offences involving violence, some assault offences, some Firearms offences, and those with links to serious and organised crime [see s 8 and reg 4 Tattooing Industry Control Regulations 2016 (SA)].

A disqualified person who provides tattooing services is guilty of an offence [s 7 Tattooing Industry Control Act 2015 (SA)].

Maximum penalty:

Natural person - 4 years imprisonment

Body corporate - $250 000

Anyone who proposes to be a provider of tattooing services has to give notice to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs [s 13].

Maximum penalty: Natural person - 1 year imprisonment ; Body corporate - $100 000

Any person starting employment (paid or unpaid) providing tattooing services must notify the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs within 28 days [s 14].

Maximum penalty: $100 000 or 1 year imprisonment

There are also provisions for record keeping and failing to follow directions of authorised officers which also have high penalties [see for example s 12, s 16].

Keeping some items, such as firearms, weapons or explosives in a place where tattooing services are provided is an offence [s 21].

Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment

Exemptions

A tattooing service is exempt from the provisions of the Act if it consists of only cosmetic tattooing (resembling makeup), or tattooing performed on a person in the course of medical treatment [reg 8 Tattooing Industry Control Regulations 2016 (SA)].

Additionally, the Minister can grant exemptions under the Act [s 23].

Forms and more information:

See the Consumer and Business Services website: http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/

Tattooing, body modification and body piercing  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 18th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.