Population increase in regional towns is making Qld women vulnerable to sexual assaults
Population increase in regional towns is making Qld women vulnerable to sexual assaults Claudia Baxter

Sexual assaults have boomed in mining towns

ILLEGAL prostitution and sex trafficking has boomed along with the mining industry in towns and cities across the state, with some regions reporting an eight-fold increase in the number of sexual assaults.

A report also expressed concerns over whether young migrant women are being transported to Queensland's mining towns to operate as sex workers.

The Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has spent the past six months hosting a series of public consultation hearings in a bid to reduce and prevent criminal activity across the state.

Gladstone Women's Health Centre and Sexual Assault Service believes the huge industry-related increase in population had increased women's vulnerability to sexual assault.

The organisation said this was largely due to significant overcrowding and accommodation shortages.

The committee was told, during private hearings in Brisbane, huge increases in the cost of housing had resulted in a rise in the number of people in mining towns forced into shared accommodation arrangements.

But the committee was told sometimes those arrangements turned sinister.

"In one case a woman managed to find accommodation by renting a room of a caravan park owner in exchange for cooking and cleaning," the committee heard.

"That arrangement worked quite well until the landlord decided he wanted sex as part of the deal as well.

"She was under extreme pressure to have sex and declined."

The committee was told of another situation where a young girl was forced to flee in the middle of the night fearful she was about to be sexually assaulted.

"In another case a teenage girl was living in a house with a few men because they all had to share and woke up to a find a man on top of her," the committee heard.

"She fled into the middle of the night without even taking her phone, or wallet, or anything."

The committee's report, which is currently before parliament, identified a lack of support services as one of the contributing factors which had seen women in mining regions become particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

The report and its 88 recommendations on a wide-range of topics will be debated when parliament resumes next year.


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