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14 July 2014 - Supporting the fight against forced marriage, human trafficking and slavery

Minister for Justice

Supporting the fight against forced marriage, human trafficking and slavery

14 July 2014

Today in Canberra I convened the 2014 National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery where Ministers, government agencies, non-government organisations and industry bodies discussed the important work being done to combat human trafficking and slavery.

I was joined by Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews, and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Michaelia Cash.

In the decade since the Howard Government launched Australia's strategy to combat human trafficking and slavery there has been more than 450 Australian Federal Police investigations into allegations of trafficking and slavery-related offences where more than 230 victims have been identified.

Last year's criminalisation of forced marriage in Australia signalled that forced marriage is never acceptable in our country. However, the criminal law must be supported by community measures to detect and prevent forced marriage.

Human trafficking and slavery are insidious crimes and grave abuses of human rights. Globally they are one of the biggest sources of income for organised crime. The Coalition Government understands the work of Non-Government Organisations is crucial to the success of Australia's long term strategy to eradicate these practices.

In the 10 years since the strategy was first launched Australia has dedicated more than $150 million to fight human trafficking and slavery.

Organisations leading the charge in Australia's fight against forced marriage, human trafficking and slavery have received $1.9 million since the Coalition Government was elected, to continue the cutting edge work to eradicate these crimes.

In March I awarded four groups $360,000 each to support the tireless work undertaken to raise awareness of these crimes and to identify and provide support to people at risk or in need of help.

Today I announced another $480,000 from the Grants to Australian Organisations Program for the following projects:

  • more than $350,000 for Anti-Slavery Australia to expand its legal advice service to provide direct assistance to people facing forced marriage including by email and text message; and to establish a website to assist victims and people at risk of forced marriage with information and links to services and supports;
  • more than $60,000 for the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) to develop a curriculum on forced marriage and facilitate teacher training in government and independent schools; and
  • almost $70,000 for the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights (AMWCHR) to develop an education program aimed at increasing the capacity of community organisations to work with young women and families on forced marriage.

Forced marriage and human trafficking can be prevented, and with the right tools we can empower young men and women to protect themselves and their friends, and get help when needed.