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9. Human Trafficking and Slavery

The Salvation Army has an international mandate to work on behalf of trafficked and enslaved persons as part of its mission for social justice. The Salvation Army works in 130 countries across the globe and our representations in many of these countries include programs which respond to people trafficking and slavery.

In Australia, The Salvation Army has established and operates the country’s only Safe House for people who have experienced human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like conditions. Residential support is provided to young women, women and women with children. Nonresidential support is provided to men, women, young people and families. Prevention case-management is provided to people at risk as well support for family members in home countries.

The Salvation Army is engaged in policy advocacy at the highest levels of government to ensure a human rights response to trafficking and slavery. The Salvation Army also conducts extensive community awareness raising and training, and empowers people who have personally experienced trafficking and slavery to become advocates themselves.

Issues for Consideration

Human trafficking is a transnational crime and a gross violation of human rights. Australia has taken significant steps to meet its obligations as a party to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and other relevant anti-slavery instruments. Australia as a nation has the opportunity to lead the world in anti-trafficking and anti-slavery efforts.

Australia has a robust and comprehensive response to human trafficking and slavery that balances the needs of victims with a criminal justice response. Yet, awareness amongst frontline personnel and in the broader community remains very low resulting in many victims ‘falling through the cracks’. New criminal offences legislation passed in March of this year now offers victims a better chance at getting justice if they can be appropriately identified and supported.

Slavery and human trafficking occur on a continuum of exploitation of people’s rights as workers. If worker protections in Australia are weakened it creates an environment where exploitation can flourish. All workers, especially migrants, then become vulnerable to abuse.

Human trafficking and slavery

Call for Action

The Salvation Army calls on all political parties to commit to the following:

  • The adoption of a regional and national human rights approach to slavery-proofing Australia and supporting people who have experienced slavery-like practices;
  • Continuing to resource independent, unbiased research into human trafficking and slavery to ensure an evidence-based policy response;
  • Educating businesses on ways to take reasonable steps to ensure that goods imported into Australia are free of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking in their production;
  • Continuing to convene, actively engage and adequately resource the Australian Government’s National Roundtable on People Trafficking;
  • Increasing resources by 50% towards awareness-raising on a national and regional scale to prevent trafficking and slavery, decreasing the vulnerability of migrants and investigate and prosecuting violations; and
  • Ensuring that civil society engagement with policy-makers in the region is continued and encouraged through the Bali Process, United Nations and other regional instruments. This can be done by facilitating and resourcing the participation of such groups.