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Hello especially to all the sex workers and sex worker activists of NSW out there 😉
I have news! This should be exciting news to anyone who has been lobbying, working and fighting for SWOP’s devolution from ACON.
For anyone who doesn’t know, SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project) is a branch of ACON.
Finalllllllly the gay community has stepped in and is calling for ACON’s funding to be taken back and handled by NSW Health. If we are REALLY lucky, maybe the media article below will FINALLY give ACON the wake up call they need. I don’t think they’ll change their service immediately because I don’t think they think there is a problem. Of course NSW Health won’t take back the funding, but with more people now joining the fight who don’t rant like I do (lol), maybe, just maybe this year will be a new and exciting year for NSW’s sex worker organisation.
ACON / SWOP WELCOME TO THE DAYS OF ACCOUNTABILITY!
Row over HIV health cash
January 16, 2011
A BITTER row has erupted in Sydney’s gay community after a group of prominent activists accused the state’s leading homosexual health service of squandering millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
Gay rights campaigner Gary Burns, HIV lobbyist Shayne Chester and journalist Peter Hackney have demanded the state government “demolish” ACON, formerly known as the AIDS Council of NSW.
The trio alleged the service, which specialises in HIV prevention, care and support, received $12.6 million in government funding last year but spent only $800,000 on programs and services. In a scathing attack, the group dubbed the organisation a “gravy train” and called on Premier Kristina Keneally to hand back ACON’s work to NSW Health.
“ACON holds nebulous conferences, seminars, workshops, initiatives, meetings, information sessions and awards nights with disturbing regularity,” Mr Hackney said.
“They are all catered for, with smoked salmon, ham and avocado, freshly squeezed orange juice and even champagne – and we all know who’s paying for it.”
Mr Chester said NSW had had high rates of HIV infection for more than a decade, and this was compounded by an increase in unprotected casual sex among gay men.
“Why is this happening?” he asked. “Because ACON, which is chartered with HIV education and prevention, is failing us.”
ACON’s annual report for last year shows it spent about 60 per cent of its budget on salaries and a further $882,000 on administrative costs. An additional $500,000 was spent on “travel and representation”.
ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill defended his organisation and called the activist group members “three serial complainants who sit on the fringes of the gay community blowing their own trumpet”.
“ACON employs 115 staff to deliver programs and services across NSW and benchmarks its salaries against similar organisations,” he said.
“We’re also a pioneer of programs addressing broader health issues, such as mental health and drug and alcohol issues, which can impact on vulnerability to HIV.”
In NSW cases involving HIV infection peaked in the mid-1980s, with 1636 diagnoses reported in 1987. Since then rates have dropped dramatically, with 327 new cases recorded in 2009, although that is a slight increase from 323 in 2008.
A NSW Health spokeswoman said the government had been involved with ACON since 1985. “Their work has contributed to these improved outcomes,” she said.
She said ACON had consistently met its annual financial and performance requirements and would receive a further $9.7 million in the coming year to provide services priority groups including gay men, sex workers, Aboriginal communities and people living with HIV.
Let’s see you dismiss them – oh and just a hint… you’ll have to do better than they’re a bunch of lone fringe dwellers, although I know it’s the standard line used on sex workers all the time!
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