The Sex Industry Network (SIN) originated out of the Prostitutes Association of South Australia (PASA) which was formed in 1986 by a group of local sex workers as a reaction to the intense police harassment that sex workers in South Australia (SA) were being subjected to at that time.
It was during this time that many community groups from what we now call priority populations (sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users) were being funded to deliver HIV prevention information and education within our own communities, as part of Australia’s successful partnership approach to HIV/AIDS.
In 1987 PASA received a grant from the SA Health Commission to conduct a three month HIV/AIDS education project with sex workers called the ‘Travelling Parlour Show’. Several sex workers received training to become ‘peer educators’ and joined with a nurse from the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) clinic to take their education and information sessions to the workplaces of sex workers across the metropolitan area of Adelaide.
The project was so successful that in 1989 PASA and the newly formed AIDS council of South Australia (ACSA) joined forces to develop an ongoing HIV /AIDS education project with SA sex workers. This project has had several name changes including ‘the PASA project’ and ‘SWIPE’ but has been known as Sex Industry Network (SIN) since early 1995. SIN was co-located with ACSA in Norwood until 2011, when we moved into our own premises on Henley Beach Road, Underdale. We currently reside at 220 South Road Mile End, in a lovely building that was once a brothel – how appropriate.
While SIN was a project of ACSA, it continued to have a high degree of autonomy and was guided by its Program Committee (PC), a group of local sex workers who met monthly. It had always been the goal of SIN and ACSA that one day SIN would be an autonomous and independent sex worker organisation.
As SIN grew, PASA became less active in its original form, however other groups with similar missions have since formed. SIN was a founding member and continues to be an active member of Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Workers Association, and also supported the formation of Sex Worker Action Group Gaining Empowerment Rights and Recognition (SWAGGERR) who we continue to work closely with.
In 2013 ACSA became insolvent and as a result, SIN was temporarily closed. However, Scarlet Alliance supported a group of passionate volunteer sex workers in SA to keep limited services going while new arrangements were negotiated with the funding bodies. The SA health department agreed to fund Scarlet Alliance to complete ACSA’s original contract and SIN began its new life in October 2013.
Scarlet Alliance would auspice SIN until 2017, when we proudly completed our transition to a fully autonomous sex worker organisation.