SEX workers are not to blame for the steady rise in sexually transmitted diseases around the country's mine sites, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Speaking at a hearing in NSW Parliament about fly-in fly-out workers in Australia on Friday, Scarlet Alliance CEO Janelle Fowkes said it was time industry leaders removed the stigma surrounding the sex industry.
She said the connection between sex workers and high rates of STDs on mine sites "was not evidence based" and could instead be attributed to a lack of health services and awareness in regional communities.
"It is well recognised sex workers play an important role in educating clients who are often unaware of the need to prevent health risks," Ms Fowkes said
"They are well equipped to ensure every session is a safe sex encounter.
"Unfortunately some small centres and regional areas have a low level of infrastructure and health care and there can be problems as a result."
The Scarlet Alliance submission suggests sex workers are "unique employees" as they are classified FIFO out workers, but their purpose is to provide a service for FIFO workers.
Ms Fowkes said it disappointing sex workers were not treated like every other employee.
"Sex workers still experience very real limits and barriers to finding health care services and accommodation because of the stigma surrounding what they do," Ms Fowkes said.
"But they can not be connected to disease or an increase in the spread of disease.
"People are just looking for someone to blame and sex workers are an easy target."
Doctors and electricity contractors also spoke at the hearing.
Union bosses called for new regulations which would force mining bosses to offer training programs in remote areas where locals were missing out on their chance to be trained in the industry because it was "easier" to bring in skilled FIFO workers from capital cities.
The hearing is one of many being held around the country before the Regional Australia Committee reports back to the parliament later this year.