Briefing Paper on Australia for UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons

The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially in women and children, is scheduled to undertake a country mission to Australia in November 2011.

In preparation for that mission, and at the request of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Law Centre and Anti-Slavery Australia (Jennifer Burn) prepared a major Briefing Paper to the Special Rapporteur. Mallesons Stephen Jaques provided substantial pro bono research assistance in preparing the paper.

The Briefing Paper provides an overview of trafficking in persons in Australia, including:

  • the main forms and manifestations of human trafficking;
  • existing or planned laws, policies and plans of action to address trafficking in persons;
  • existing or planned bilateral or multilateral agreements to address trafficking;
  • support services for victims of trafficking; and
  • priorities for reform.

In the view of both the HRLC and Anti-Slavery Australia, the most effective way to address human trafficking and severe exploitation is to “incorporate a human-rights based approach into measures taken to prevent and end trafficking in persons and to protect, assist and provide access to adequate redress to victims, including the possibility of obtaining compensation from the perpetrators”. From a human rights perspective, we have identified the following priorities for reform:

  • reviewing Australia’s anti-trafficking laws to ensure compliance with Australia’s international obligations including obligations to prohibit forced labour and practices similar to slavery;
  • investing in research to strengthen our understanding of emerging issues such as forced marriage, child trafficking and organ removal;
  • consulting with community stakeholders to develop legal and policy initiatives to respond to the emerging issue of forced marriage, including multilingual guidelines for government agencies and NGOs working with people who have experienced forced marriage;
  • strengthening pathways to effective remedies for trafficked people by building effective networks and referral protocol between support services and pro bono lawyers representing clients in compensation matters;
  • facilitating and supporting family reunion between trafficked people and dependent children;
  • improving victim support by ensuring all trafficked people have appropriate access to safe and sustainable housing;
  • developing protocol and guidelines for government agencies and support services working with child victims of trafficking to ensure the protection of human rights;
  • improving coordination between federal and state government agencies to ensure a coordinated and efficient response to trafficking;
  • developing a publicly available resource on accommodation options for trafficked people, which provides information and guidance on the provision of housing to trafficked people; and
  • developing multilingual information and resources for all people entering Australia and for communities identified as most vulnerable to trafficking.