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Cut to Scarlet Alliance a National Shame

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 19 May 2016

Tags: Preventative Health, Health, Sex Workers

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

The Health Minister's decision to cut government funding to the Tasmanian Sex Worker Project is at odds with preventive health policy.  

Minister Ferguson needs to reverse his decision to scrap the funding for Scarlet Alliance, a frontline health service. For $61,000 a year it’s an incredibly cheap and successful insurance policy that keeps down rates of HIV and STI in sex workers and the wider population.

Scarlet Alliance’s program has exceeded all departmental targets, but the Minister says it’s no longer on his list of priorities. Well, why not?

When the Liberals are $3.7M into refurbishing the Royal Hobart Hospital pharmacy it’s hard not to see this paltry saving of $61,000 as an ideological decision.

Minister Ferguson's decision will mean Tasmania breaches our commitments to the National HIV, STI and Hepatitis B strategies, and our own policies for managing HIV and STIs.

Tasmania will be the only state in the country without a funded peer support sex worker organisation. Scarlet Alliance has built up trust over the past decade with this group of local and fly-in-fly-out sex workers.

No other service in Tasmania can connect with sex workers and encourage them to access screening. There is a stigma that stops many workers from seeking healthcare elsewhere.

This will result in higher rates of infection in sex workers, and through them their clients, which is not in the public interest.

The Minister’s decision exposes his preventative health strategy as being only rhetoric. He needs to reverse the cut now.