Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Action Plan details broad approach to fighting people trafficking

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs

The Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons details the Government’s strong commitment to eliminating a vile trade in human cargo, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

“The Action Plan outlines Australia’s efforts in the four key areas of prevention, detection and investigation, criminal prosecution and victim support,” Senator Ellison said.

“Trafficking in persons is a global problem, which the Government is doing its utmost to address on a broad front including strong domestic, bilateral, regional and international efforts,” he said.

Ten people traffickers are already being prosecuted as part of 20 ongoing Australian Federal Police investigations into people trafficking following tough Government action to beat this illicit trade.

In October 2003 the Government announced a $20 million package of measures to complement Australia’s existing efforts to combat trafficking in persons.

Two key law enforcement measures are a 23-member Australian Federal Police mobile strike team to investigate trafficking and sexual servitude and improved collaboration between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) on the detection and investigation of trafficking, with specialist training for AFP and DIMIA officers.

Senator Patterson said the Government’s integrated approach to tackling people trafficking included comprehensive victim support including accommodation, expenses, training and access to social support, legal, medical and counselling services.

“New visa arrangements for victims have been introduced, and Australia is also offering reintegration assistance for victims returning to source countries in South-East Asia,” Senator Patterson said.

A number of victims have been granted with Bridging F Visas to remain in Australia while criminal investigations are carried out.

They are receiving support and assistance through the case management of Southern Edge Training.

“A domestic community awareness strategy is also underway to provide targeted information about trafficking, how to report it and available support for victims.”

Regional cooperation is another key focus of the plan, with a senior migration officer in Bangkok to investigate people trafficking in South-East Asia and regional cooperation through the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime and the Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues.

“The Bali Process has been working on people trafficking issues since its inception over two years ago, and contrary to Mr Smith’s incorrect claims, Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, Caroline Millar, already has jurisdiction over sex slavery,” Senator Ellison said.

New federal offences to comprehensively criminalise trafficking in persons will be introduced into Parliament this year.

The Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons will be distributed to governments and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas as well as major international bodies such as the United Nations.

The document is also available at Attorney-General’s Department.