Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Report to Scarlet Alliance National Forum 2007


(Formerly SSPAN – Sexual Service Providers’ Advocacy Network)

Report to the Scarlet Alliance National Forum 2006-2007

At Kalgoorlie, October 2007

Crimson Coalition has had an exciting and challenging year.

The closure of SQWISI
The excitement and challenges started with the closure in November 2006 of SQWISI (Self-Health for Queensland Workers in the Sex Industry) which had been one of the few autonomous sex worker organisations in the country (funded by Queensland Health) and had provided services for Queensland workers for over 12 years.

Initially, SQWISI were to ‘restructure and reopen’ in March 2007 and so SSPAN moved to provide some input into what shape this restructure would take. Later, when we were advised that SQWISI would be dissolving as an incorporated body and that sexual health education services would be tendered out to another organization we found ourselves in a challenging situation.

Scarlet Alliance helped us to lobby a variety of government authorities and community-based organizations delivering similar health services to ensure that peer-education would remain a high priority in the upcoming tender. A joint Scarlet Alliance-SSPAN forum on the future of peer-education in Queensland was held in Brisbane in July 2007 toward this end.

The closure of SQWISI was solely a result of incompetent management and I believe that this may have caused the relevant Queensland Government departments and other NGO’s to think that sex worker organizations are not viable and that services to sex workers can be better delivered by non-peer organizations.

Formalising SSPAN as Crimson Coalition
In order to position ourselves to obtain government funding we decided to make a start toward Incorporating as a legal entity. Many decisions had to be made – and some of these are still not totally cast in stone – membership basis, fees, management committee, organization name.

We changed our name to Crimson Coalition – a baby Scarlet Alliance?

We are still in the process of figuring out the legalities of incorporation. For example, there can be problems with having people with criminal records on the management committee in Queensland – but we will work these out.

Other services to sex workers
All year we have provided information by phone and flyer to sex workers. Post-SQWISI closure, over the Christmas/New Year period, we conducted some street outreach (thanks to condom donations from NT SWOP and ANSELL) in the New Farm area. We have also provided support to sex workers facing serious legal charges over the year.

Media activities
SSPAN members have continued to engage in some media activities, although our profile could be much higher!

One ABC Radio 612 “Drive-Time” interview focused on the Queensland opposition leader who, instead of calling the Premier a hypocrite, likened him to “a prostitute in a ball gown talking about celibacy”. This was a fun interview that allowed a lot of pro-sex industry commentary to be dropped into a general critique of politicians attitudes toward sex workers.

We have also set up a SSPAN e-list (on Yahoo like the Scarletlist) which makes it easier for those of us with computers to keep in contact. A lot of information has been loaded into the files section of the site and is ready to be transferred to our own website which we hope to set up in the not-too-distant future.

The future of Crimson Coalition
Crimson Coalition now have in place a Bank Account and a new Management Committee and are working on developing a constitution to become an Incorporated Association in Queensland. We hope to set up a website and should be able to finance this through donations and small project funding.

In conjunction with Scarlet Alliance, we will be providing input into the Queensland Health review to be conducted later this year and may make submission for the government tender that this review will inform.

We are considering other options for fundraising – Corporate sponsorship? Product sales? Licensed clubhouse? That sounds like fun!

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