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Whole of Government Strategy

The National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons was implemented by the Australian Government in 2003. The strategy focuses on prevention, investigation, criminal prosecution and victim protection and support.

Anti-Slavery Australia works in partnership with government in Australia to end human trafficking, slavery and severe exploitation of migrant workers. Given the issue’s transnational scope, the Federal Government oversees Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery. The Australian Government’s current Anti-People Trafficking Strategy can be seen here.

In addition to overseeing the response at government level, since 2008 the Federal Government has convened the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking, a coalition among government and non-government actors working together to strengthen Australia’s response to trafficking and slavery, of which Anti-Slavery Australia was a foundation member.

Partnership in profile: Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department

Anti-Slavery Australia and the Commonweatlh Attorney General’s Department (AGD) have built a strong and lasting partnership. We have collaborated with the AGD on a number of initiatives including developing the Guidelines for NGOs working with trafficked people with the Australian Human Rights Commission and developing multi-lingual ‘Know your rights’ factsheets for vulnerable persons. Anti-Slavery Australia was the recipient of two substantial AGD grants under the Proceeds of Crime Act scheme, in 2009 and 2011. This funding was used to raise awareness of all forms of trafficking in Australia including the production of three Community Service Announcements, four longer films targeted to the broader community, health and legal practitioners and secondary school students, the development of legal services for trafficked people and the conduct of research activities.

The AGD released two discussion papers in 2010 seeking responses to two emerging issues: Criminal Justice Responses to Slavery and Forced and Servile Marriage. Anti-Slavery Australia made submissions in response to each of the discussion papers. In 2012, Anti-Slavery Australia also made submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in response to its Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like conditions and People Trafficking. The report on the Inquiry can be found here.

Australian Federal Government agencies engaged in eliminating human trafficking include:

The Attorney-General’s Department coordinates the federal Government’s efforts to combat people trafficking. The AGD chairs an Interdepartmental Committee (IDC), comprising a number of Government agencies which are responsible for coordinating the Government’s efforts to combat people trafficking.

Members of the IDC are:

Australian Federal Police
(AFP) investigates Commonwealth crimes including the offences of slavery, servitude, forced marriage, forced labour and trafficking. Anti-Slavery Australia works closely with AFP’s specialist Human Trafficking Team (HTT) in identifying and supporting victims of human trafficking and slavery in Australia. The AFP is a leader in the Asia-Pacific region, providing training to other nations’ policing services in relation to the investigation of human trafficking offences.

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is Australia’s independent national human rights institution, a statutory body responsible for infringements under anti-discrimination legislation and for advocacy in relation to human rights and discrimination issues. The AHRC and Anti-Slavery Australia have collaborated on a number of initiatives, including the development of Guidelines for NGOs working with trafficked people . The AHRC intervened in the Wei Tang case, providing submissions in relation to how Australia’s slavery provisions should be interpreted in light of the country’s international human rights obligations.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA Seafarers Welfare Advisory Committee) coordinates and supports the development of port welfare committees to provide seafarer support services including those who may be enslaved or trafficked.

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) prosecutes alleged offences against Commonwealth law including the offences of slavery, servitude, forced marriage, forced labour and trafficking. Cases are referred by the AFP to the CDPP. Anti-Slavery Australia has worked closely with the AFP and CDPP on a number of successful prosecutions, by providing support to some of the witnesses in the proceedings.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) plays a very important role in identifying people who are vulnerable to trafficking or exploitation, as the primary interface between migrants and government in Australia. DIAC also administers the range of visa options that may be available to people who have been trafficked to or exploited in Australia, including the Witness Protection (Trafficking) Visa Program. Anti-Slavery Australia works closely with DIAC in order to support our clients and uphold their rights.

Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent statutory office to promote harmonious, productive and cooperative workplace relations and ensure compliance with Commonwealth workplace laws. The FWO investigates and takes legal action against exploitative employers. Anti-Slavery Australia and the FWO continue to collaborate on a number of cases.

Office for Women (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)), administers the Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program and has contracted the Australian Red Cross, a non-government specialist organisation to provide case management services.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is involved in combating trafficking in persons at a regional level.

Working with partner governments in the Asia-Pacific region, DFAT (previously operating as AusAID until November 2013) projects have resulted in:

  • the establishment of specialist anti-trafficking law enforcement units and regular meetings of Heads of Specialist Units
  • training for judges, prosecutors and police officers
  • assistance in drafting anti-trafficking legislation
  • cooperation between the criminal justice systems and victim support agencies
  • strengthened regional cooperation on trafficking
  • improved policy, legal, research and outreach capacities in partner countries
  • a close working relationship with ASEAN to develop a package of generic training materials that will be available to all ASEAN member countries.

Contact Us

Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney
Phone: +61-2-9514 9660