Human trafficking not just an international problem

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Home > Media > News > Human trafficking not just an international problem
Human trafficking not just an international problem

Modern slavery and human trafficking are prevalent issues in Australia.

That was the message from Sr Carole McDonald, a member of Australian Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), when she came to Hobart recently to speak at Catholic Youth Ministry’s Pints of Faith event.
Sr Carole, who is based in Melbourne and has worked with ACRATH for 10 years, said it surprised many people to know that human trafficking and modern slavery was a huge issue in Australia.

“Human trafficking or modern day slavery is worldwide, but it is actually happening in Australia,” she said.

“In Australia modern slavery takes many forms including prostitution, massage parlours, students not being paid for work…there have even been people coming into Australia and being housed in barns with no sanitation, being driven to work in a factory or on a farm and being paid a pittance.”

Forced and ‘child’ marriages were also an issue.
Sr Carole said people migrating to Australia for work were the main targets of human trafficking.

“Mainly vulnerable people in South East Asian countries coerced into coming to Australia are preyed upon because they are often desperate for work, don’t know the language, don’t know who to go to if they are being mistreated and they don’t want to lose their job as they are supporting their families or themselves,” she said.

ACRATH works to address human trafficking and modern slavery through community and school education, advocacy and providing companionship and support to those who have been victims.

While the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery had increased in scope and size over the years, Sr Carole said she also felt a difference was being made by groups such as ACRATH.

“Just the fact that we are educating people is a positive,” she said.

“In the 10 years we have been involved our knowledge has grown, as has the number of groups involved and working on the issue.”

An ACRATH education program on human trafficking and modern slavery is already used in many schools,  while a new Commonwealth supported schools program focused on forced marriage and educating students about their related rights and Australian law, is also being finalised.

The 2013 passing of legislation in Australia outlawing forced marriage in Australia and the 2014 jailing of a perpetrator under the law, were also positive milestones.
Sr Carole said Pope Francis’s focus and push against human trafficking and modern slavery was also a gift.

“He is a breath of fresh air in every sense, but he has talked a lot about trafficking and keeps on talking about it which is good,” she said.

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