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Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

More funding to fight slavery and labour trafficking

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Brendan O'Connore MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Justice

The Gillard Government has stepped up the fight against labour trafficking, granting more than $485,000 in funding for five organisations to combat slavery and human trafficking in Australia.

Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor and Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis said the funding would go to projects which targeted employers and workers to raise awareness of labour exploitation, and to provide advocacy and outreach to industries or groups which may be vulnerable to these crimes, such as migrant workers.

“Fortunately, people trafficking is not common here in Australia, but it is a particularly heinous crime with devastating consequences for victims and their families,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Australian authorities are now identifying an increasing number of trafficking victims in industries other than the sex industry.”

Ms Ellis said the non-government sector was instrumental in raising awareness of human trafficking, identifying cases and providing support to victims.

“That’s why we are continuing to dedicate funding, resources and time to working with non-government organisations to address this crime,” Ms Ellis said.

“Victim support and rehabilitation is one of the four pillars of Australia’s anti-people trafficking strategy.”

The funding will go to:

  • Australian Red Cross, to identify and combat labour trafficking among Indian 457 visa holders in NSW and Victoria, including producing an information flyer in the major Indian languages for 457 visa applicants
  • Asian Women at Work, to work with migrant women in low-paid and precarious employment across Sydney, including in clothing outwork, factories, cleaning, nail and beauty salons, restaurants, aged care and child care
  • Australian Hotels Association, to distribute an information brochure to 5,000 hotels nationally on how to legally employ overseas workers and an online seminar on strategies to discourage exploitation
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions, for its Labour trafficking is a crime – spot it, report it campaign targeting the hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining and domestic work industries
  • Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Construction Division), to produce multi-lingual pamphlets targeting the building sector.

“The Government originally allocated $200,000 in Proceeds of Crime Act funding, using assets confiscated from criminals, for these projects, but the quality of the proposed projects and the significant benefits that they will bring to vulnerable workers convinced us to more than double the funding,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The work done by these organisations will support the Government’s actions to learn more about and address labour trafficking as part of the whole-of-government strategy,” Ms Ellis said.

The funding is in addition to $50 million in Government funding since 2003 which has contributed to domestic anti-trafficking initiatives, including specialist investigative teams within the Australian Federal Police and greater support for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

There have been more than 300 Australian Federal Police investigations into allegations of trafficking-related offences since 2004, with 14 convictions.

The most recent conviction was on 6 October, 2011.