The Australian Sex Workers' Association, Scarlet Alliance, has reportedly called for the Federal government to extend the visa rights to cover foreign prostitutes and escorts to enable them to work as 'skilled workers' on 457 visas, which covers 624 different types of jobs for which Australian employers are allowed to recruit foreign workers.
Scarlet Alliance maintains that sex work is a skilled profession, just like the other professions, and should also be included under the four-year 457 visas.
The Scarlet Alliance migration programme manager, Jules Kim said that the immigration department has excluded the sex workers from working in Australia, as they do not consider sex work as a skilled occupation, adding that the exclusion means discrimination and the sex workers too need equal rights.
According to the report, although an immigration department spokesman said that sex work is not recognised as a trade qualification, the Scarlet Alliance asserted that it provides training for members through a Diploma in Community Education, adding that the sex workers are skilled at 'working with condoms and dams, negotiating prices and services, performing STI (sexually transmitted infection) checks, making risk assessments and establishing boundaries.'
The 457 visas are controversial in Australia because labour organisers claim that unscrupulous employers use these visas to exploit foreign workers, hiring them at lower wages than Australian workers. However, according to Kim, access to 457 visas would reduce the vulnerability of migrant sex workers to exploitation, including sex trafficking.
"The more legal, safe migration pathways you have open to people, the less likely they're going to be vulnerable to exploitation," Kim told News Limited.
Kim said that sex workers under 30 can legally use working holiday visas and student visas to work in Austrlia, however there are very limited working visa pathways for migrant sex workers. The lack of 457 visas has made prostitutes more "susceptible to deception and trafficking."