Two former sex workers who have been without an income since a
six-month job scheme ended on May 21 were granted unemployment benefits yesterday.

Work and Income Auckland regional director Losa McAlpine met the transgender group of former sex workers at the Mangere East Family Service Centre yesterday and also agreed to post a staff member to the centre for half a day a week from next week.

Briannah Swift, 18, and Isles Posimani, 24, said in yesterday's Herald
that they had been unable to get either jobs or benefits since finishing
their six-month Community Max scheme, which aimed to help them into new jobs outside the sex industry.

Ms Posimani said yesterday that she had not attended appointments at Work and Income's Mangere service centre because ``I have my reasons'.

Community worker Mama Tere, who runs a support programme at the Family Centre for Maori and Pacific gay, bisexual and transgender people, said transgender people did not feel comfortable visiting the service centre.

``When the case manager says, `Are you he or she,' straight away the girls feel very unsafe,' she said.

Ms McAlpine said her staff had been discussing ways to improve support for the transgender community with Mama Tere for some time.

``Every effort is and will continue to be made by Work and Income in
supporting these young people into work,' she said.

``In terms of employment support and benefit payments, these young people need to take some responsibility for meeting their obligations.
Benefits have been granted when appointments have been met and paperwork
provided.'