Tuesday, June 17, 2003

WA govt launches fresh attack on Phoenix sex group

PERTH — Sex worker group Phoenix has come under attack by the West Australian government for the second time in as many weeks for producing "inappropriate" promotional material with public money.

WA Training Minister Alan Carpenter today ordered the withdrawal of a workshop about towel folding in brothels from a government-funded education conference being hosted by the group. Titled "Whore-i-gami — the Art of Towel Rolling, Folding and Shaping in the Sex Industry", the workshop was to have been presented at an adult conference on Friday.

But Mr Carpenter said it was completely inappropriate for a community education event, to which the government had contributed about $40,000. "Promotional material for the workshop is flippant, offensive and falls outside community standards," the minister said of the conference. "I do not want to see events like this tarnished by a workshop which, according to promotional material, introduces participants 'to the work environment of sex workers and the skills sex workers share'."

Earlier this month, Health Minister Bob Kucera suspended Phoenix's government funding on revelations the group had produced a brochure giving prostitutes advice on how to keep clients. The booklet gave sex workers tips such as "always act like you enjoy it" and "try a strip or a new position in bed", and also advised prostitutes to start work early so clients did not see them without make-up or wearing jeans.

Mr Kucera said an audit had shown Phoenix was using taxpayer funds — which totalled $242,000 a year — inappropriately. Phoenix's media spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. But Sex Workers Action Group spokeswoman Elena Jeffreys said Mr Carpenter was censoring sex-industry information to hide "government mismanagement of the issue". "By silencing Phoenix, and excluding them from an educators' conference, they (the government) are hoping no-one will notice they have totally overlooked sex-industry education in WA," Ms Jeffreys said.

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Created: January 8, 2004
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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