Time to remove industry's stigma

SEX workers are not to blame for the steady rise in sexually transmitted diseases around the country's mine sites, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Speaking at a hearing in NSW Parliament about fly-in fly-out workers in Australia on Friday, Scarlet Alliance chief executive Janelle Fowkes said it was time industry leaders removed the stigma surrounding the sex industry.

She said the connection between sex workers and high rates of STDs on mine sites "was not evidence-based" and could instead be attributed to a lack of health services and awareness in regional communities.

"It is well recognised sex workers play an important role in educating clients who are often unaware of the need to prevent health risks," Ms Fowkes said

"They are well equipped to ensure every session is a safe-sex encounter.

"Unfortunately some small centres and regional areas have a low level of infrastructure and health care and there can be problems as a result."

The Scarlet Alliance submission suggests sex workers are "unique employees" as they are classified FIFO workers, but provide a service for FIFO workers.

"People are just looking for someone to blame and sex workers are an easy target," it says.

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