A person who behaves in an indecent manner in a public place, while visible from a public place, or in a police station or so as to offend or insult anyone is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of $1250 or three months imprisonment [Summary Offences Act 1953 s.23(1)]. Examples of this sort of behaviour are indecently exposing oneself or masturbating in a public place or in public view.
It is not an offence to be naked in an area, or in waters adjacent to an area, reserved for nude bathing [Summary Offences Act 1953 s.23a].
A person who, in a public place or while visible from a public place or from occupied premises, wilfully does a grossly indecent act, whether alone or with another person, is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty of a maximum fine of $2500 or imprisonment for six months [Summary Offences Act 1953 s.23(2)]. For offences of gross indecency in the presence of a person aged under the age of 16 years, see SEXUAL OFFENCES.
It is an offence to use language that is indecent or profane, or to sing indecent or profane songs in a public place [Summary Offences Act 1953 s.22]. The maximum penalty is a fine of $250. Language is indecent if it is highly offensive to the recognised standards of common propriety. This offence is not designed for the special protection of those who are easily shocked. It is meant to protect the public in its use of public places against any substantial breach of decorum.
It is an offence to use indecent language in a private place only if it can be heard in public places or in neighbouring occupied premises or is used with intent to offend or insult anyone.
The circumstances where the language is used may be important in deciding if the language is indecent. For example, words which would be offensive if used in a shop may not be offensive if used in the front bar of a hotel. For the purposes of this section, indecent includes obscene.