SWOP is Australia’s largest and longest established community-based, peer education sex worker organisation focused on HIV, STI and hepatitis C prevention, education and health promotion for sex workers in NSW.
A key element in the success of SWOP’s work is the building of strategic, collaborative and multidisciplinary working relationships with sex workers, other key health, government and non-government organisations, and advocating for an equitable and holistic approach to services provided to sex workers.
SWOP was established in 1990 after its predeccessor, the Australia Prostitutes Collective, which had been established in 1983, ceased operation. Since 1990, SWOP has been funded by the NSW Ministry of Health (NSW Health) to provide sexual health information and support to sex workers in NSW, specifically in relation to HIV and other sexually transmissible infections. Throughout this period, governance had been managed by ACON, the peak NSW HIV/STI health promotion/prevention NGO.
On 01 July, 2014, SWOP began operating independently, as a stand‐alone organisation with its own membership base of sex workers and sex worker governing board. SWOP Chief Executive Officer Kylie Tattersall said: “This is an exciting and historic moment for SWOP as an organisation, and indeed for sex workers all over the world, as it acknowledges the importance of peer education and the success of community‐led responses to HIV. It marks the beginning of a new era. Sex workers in NSW can take great pride in the remarkable health outcomes they have achieved and sustained over the years, and I believe SWOP can feel some pride from participating in, contributing to, and continuing to maintain this outstanding outcome, too.”
NSW can be proud the virtual elimination of HIV transmission within the NSW sex industry, and the sustained the low rates of STIs amongst NSW sex workers. This success has been made possible by the continued funding by successive NSW governments of peer education programs, and by decriminalisation of the NSW sex industry, allowing sex workers access to vital services and support, regulatory bodies access to sex workers and sex worker workplaces, and sex workers to have access to those regulators.
Decriminalisation enables SWOP to access the majority of sex services premises throughout NSW.
SWOP's mission is to improve the health of all sex workers in NSW through innovative, holistic, and effective approaches to sexual health, and to improve the protection of their human rights.
At SWOP we value and respect:
Self-determination for sex workers
The diversity of the sex industry and its workforce
Holistic approaches to health and wellbeing society
Workplace rights and the recognition of sex work as work