University students are being aggressively targeted by the sex industry, with so many working as prostitutes that support groups have become common on campus.  Sex-worker welfare organisations routinely set up stalls at university open days.  Cameron Cox, chief executive of the government-funded Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOT), said that prostitution was seen as an acceptable option by many university students.  He said SWOT reached out to students on campus by running workshops at orientation days and doing talks at student union meetings to make sure young people had access to support networks.

“I put myself through university by doing sex work and that was more than 40 years ago. It wasn’t uncommon then, and it’s not uncommon now,” he said.  The issue has come to light following the murder of a Sydney University woman Michaela Dunn 24, who was stabbed to death by a man who had arranged to have sex with her at a unit in Sydney’s CBD.  Police sources have confirmed Ms Dunn and a girlfriend had been running a sex service, renting a fourth-floor unit in the city’s CBD, to meet customers.  Police have revealed it was the girlfriend who discovered Ms Dunn’s body, after she went to check on her at the unit because she was not answering her phone.

The revelation Ms Dunn had been living a double life, working as a “high-end” private sex worker, compounded the horror for her family and friends.  It appears Ms Dunn first registered as a sole trader on July 19, 2016, following the advice of a popular local website for freelance sex workers.   Under the heading ‘Tips and hints, private escort world”, the site also advises freelancers to keep their private lives separate.  Many workers, it says, blurred their faces on website photos because “putting themselves out there on the internet is a risk”.

Ms Dunn’s sudden cash flow in 2017 appears to have funded her extensive overseas travel including a Contiki travel tour of Europe in 2017 and trips to Fiji and Sri Lanka last year. Her final trip, four months ago, was to the celebrity-studded Coachella music festival in California.  “High-end” escorts can command anything from $700 for an hour to $5500 for an “overnight”.  Well-known inner-Sydney brothels clearly target students in their jobs ads.  A Touch of Class describes the work as “perfect for students, earn high income while you study”.  At The Golden Apple, student recruits are even offered free airfares if they live out of town.

Jules Kim, chief executive of the Scarlett Alliance, the national peak body for sex workers, said over the past few years there had been a dramatic increase in the number of sex workers freelancing on websites rather than working for brothels, where the owner takes up to half the workers’ earnings.  “It’s gone from around 20% of the industry to 50%” Ms Kim said.  The owner of a brothel in Sydney’s inner west, who asked not to be named, said she had seen an “explosion” in the number of women working privately.  “I’d say there are about 8000 girls working in Sydney privately,” she said.  “I warn my girls against it because they don’t get the protection they do in a brothel.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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