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Sex Industry Page 5

Sex Workers organisation and response to HIV and AIDS

Concerns about the HIV pandemic had precipitated Carolyn Pickle's unsuccessful challenge to South Australia's prostitution laws. On Thursday 13 March 1986 20 sex industry workers met in the Grosvenor Hotel "to formulate a submission for the SA Government". Ian Gilfillan, Australian Democrats MLC, Dr A. Scott Cameron, head of the SA Communicable Disease's Health Control Unit and Meg Thompson of the VD Clinic also attended. The meeting's organiser, Sylvia Chandra, said "that fear of AIDS had inspired the gathering, but the issues of legalisation of prostitution and improved regulations" would also be discussed. [The Advertiser, 14 March 1986, page 2] It was at this meeting that PASA was formed and the first issues of 'Working Girl' were published. Sylvia Chandra was the first President of PASA. The Bannon Labor government also considered the risk of AIDS an issue requiring the decriminalisation of prostitution. The Minister of Health, Dr Cornwall, telling the Legislative Council that "health authorities could not prevent prostitutes from spreading AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases while prostitution was illegal." [The Advertiser, 26 March 1986, page 3]

PASA held it's meetings in the Women's Information Switchboard offices in the Institute Building and developed a proposal to conduct a phone in to inform a Private Member's Bill introduced by Carolyn Pickles, MLC, on 20 August 1986. The phone-in was conducted on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of July 1986. One hundred and eight people responded to the phone-in, sixty seven sex workers, fifty seven female and ten male, eighteen clients, fourteen parlour and brothel managers, six support workers and three who were not associated with the sex industry. PASA released the findings of the phone-in and called for the "rapid acceptance and enactment, without amendment" of the Pckles Bill on the 24th September.

Despite the failure to pass the Pickle's Bill sex worker issues continued in the media and behind the scenes. On the 23 August 1989 the High Court of Australia sitting in Adelaide ruled that the Summary Offences Act related to sex workers and brothel owners. This was in response to a claim by a sex worker that because she was not paid directly by the client she could not be charged with receiving money in a brothel. In 1989 PASA in association with Vitalstatistix Theatre Company was funded by the Australia Council to produce a series of workshops  titled 'Scarlet Horizons' aimed at  increasing self confidence among sex workers and in 1991 the Commonwealth government funded the employment of a project officer at the AIDS Council of South Australia (ACSA) to assess the needs of male sex workers. In April 1990 the Sex industry Workers Project of the ACSA had been incorporated into PASA which in anticipation of a memorandum of agreement moved into the AIDS Council. This was followed by the formation in 1992 of SWIPE (Sex Worker Industry Peer Education), a health project with Deb Milka as the Project Manager, run in conjunction with ACSA and PASA, and a name change for 'Working Girl' magazine to 'SA SIN', partly in response to the growing recognition of male sex workers. In 1993 SWIPE changed its name to SWEAT (Sex Workers Education and Training) and then in 1994, with Penny Saunders as project manager, to SA SIN (South Australian Sex Industry Network). PASA attempted to incorporate in 1992 but the Crown Solicitor refused to incorporate an organisation representing an illegal business. This attitude had changed by 1995 and PASA became an incorporated body.

Adelaide a city in sin!
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Fantasy House
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International Womens Day march 2007
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No bed of roses : memoirs of a madam
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Out from behind the red light
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Professionally speaking : A one woman show about prosti
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Prostitutes threaten to invade Parliament
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There are no bad women, just bad laws
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Women on the steps of Parliament
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