Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New support for trafficking victims

Trafficking is a fundamental abuse of human rights and will not be tolerated by the Australian Government. To this end a $5.6 million victim support program has been developed to assist victims of trafficking.

The victim support program will fund and contract case managers to deliver a comprehensive suite of support measures for trafficking victims. Case managers will provide individualised care and support which will include: income support for living expenses; secure accommodation; access to medical treatment including through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme; training such as English language and skills development courses; access to legal services; and social support.

“Most trafficking victims are in intensely vulnerable situations: they come from very disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, may not speak English, may be illiterate, have been subjected to severe forms of violence and abuse and suffer from ill-health. Some victims have also been forced into drug addiction and face long term health problems such as Hepatitis – as a direct result of being forced into trafficking,” the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Senator Kay Patterson, said.

“This initiative will help the recovery and rehabilitation of this highly vulnerable group of victims of trafficking – most of whom are women. It will also contribute to the apprehension and conviction of traffickers.

“Trafficking is an abominable practice. This new victim support program puts Australia at the forefront of international best practice in supporting trafficked persons.

“Victims who agree to stay in Australia to assist authorities with trafficking investigations will receive a comprehensive range of support services under this new, four year, program,” Senator Patterson said.

Overseas research shows that the provision of support for victims significantly increases victims’ willingness to act as witnesses against their traffickers – by up to 50 per cent.

The victim support package forms part of a $20 million Government initiative which will significantly enhance the detection, investigation and prosecution of traffickers, improve the range of support available to victims, and help prevent trafficking in persons.