Australian Religious to Speak for the Rights of Trafficked People

August 17, 2012 – A group of women religious from around Australia will make their sixth annual pilgrimage to Canberra next week in a bid to influence policies affecting people trafficked into Australia.

The fifteen women, Catholic sisters and their colleagues, are all members of Australian Catholic Religious
Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH). They will spend a week (August 19-24) in Canberra speaking to Members of Parliament, Advisors, Embassy staff, departmental officials and Church leaders in their
continuing endeavours to ensure trafficked people access their human rights.

ACRATH acknowledges the current work of the Australian Government, particularly its willingness to collaborate with NGOs to develop social policy to address the issue of human trafficking. We believe effective legislation has grown out of the genuine collaboration between government and civil society. The process has included frank dialogue as well as formal national round tables at which stakeholders have discussed the issues.

During the forthcoming visit to Canberra ACRATH members will speak with over 76 Members of Parliament and Ministerial staff. The following are their requests to Members of Parliament:

1. ACRATH particularly wishes to encourage Members of Parliament to support the new legislation Crimes Legislation Amendments (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012.

2. ACRATH strongly urges the Government to implement the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Dr Ngozi Ezeilo,. During her Nov 2011 mission to Australia she noted that Australia has “demonstrated strong leadership in combating trafficking in persons regionally and domestically.” She also affirmed the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code ACT.

3. ACRATH asks the Australian Government to ensure our Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) reaches 0.5% of our Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015, and 0.7% by 2020.

4. ACRATH asks the Australian government to ensure that the supply chain of goods brought into Australia is slave-free. ACRATH asks the Australian government to require companies to take all reasonable steps to ensure the goods they import and sell in Australia are free of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking. The US has been leading globally in this area, taking a number of steps in this direction. Goods that are particularly vulnerable include cocoa, seafood, clothing (especially cotton), bricks and rugs from some countries.

For more information see the attached document – Talking Points for Advocacy visit to Canberra.

Christine Carolan                                                                                                                 Sr Maree Marsh csb
ACRATH National Projects Coordinator                                                                           ACRATH National Chairperson 0427 302 755