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Ferguson Leaves Sex Workers Without Health and Safety Support

25 May 2016
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Rosalie Woodruff MP to move—

That the House:—

(1)           Notes the only targeted sex worker education program in Tasmania will close on the 30 June 2016, as a result of the decision of the Minister for Health, Hon Michael Ferguson MP to cut government funding for the Tasmanian Sex Worker Project that is run by Scarlet Alliance.

(2)           Understands the continued low rates of blood borne viruses such as HIV and Hep C, and of other sexually transmitted infections, among sex workers in Australia during the past 25 years is due to peer education programs, which have purposefully developed a culture of condom use and testing for infections among sex workers and their clients.

(3)           Further notes that the sex worker program in Tasmania costs a mere $61,000 a year and has met all targets required by the Department of Health, effectively limiting the spread of HIV and STIs between sex workers and their clients, and from them out to the wider population.

(4)           Acknowledges that:—

(a)           Scarlet Alliance has built up trust over the past decade with a marginalised group of local and fly-in-fly-out sex workers;

(b)           due to the stigma of sex work, no other service in Tasmania will be able to connect with sex workers and encourage them to access STI screening;

(c)           the decision of the Minister for Health will lead to higher rates of infection in sex workers, and through them their clients, which is not in the public interest; and

(d)           the decision of the Minister for Health reveals his preventive health strategy as being only rhetoric.

(5)           Recognises that from 1 July 2016 Tasmania will be in breach of our commitments to the National HIV, STI, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C strategies, and to our own State policies for managing HIV and STIs; and that Tasmania will be the only State in the country without a funded peer support sex worker organisation. 

(6)           Calls on the Minister for Health, Hon Michael Ferguson MP to reverse his decision to cut government funding to the Tasmanian Sex Worker Project.