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Report from ACRATH (Australia)

May 16, 2017

An update on ACRATH's activities

Publication of Booklet
Christine Carolan and Sr Noelene Simmons ( our newly elected President co-wrote a publication - Human Trafficking and Slavery – A response from Australian Catholics, which was published as one of the Catholic Social Justice Series of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. It has been widely distributed and was officially launched at our Annual General Meeting in February 2017.

St Bakhita
The Feast of St Bakhita was celebrated in each of our membership groups in Australia. ACRATH also supplied information on St Bakhita to many Parishes and schools. One state group met with the Sudanese Community and celebrated with them.

ACRATH has provided companionship to 22 women who had been trafficked and 21 of their children referred by Red Cross and Anti-Slavery Australia.

Members have been doing research into areas where slave trade is very strong. Palm Oil – both trafficking of children and poor families into its extraction, in addition to the destruction of the environment /land and the livelihoods of poor families. Another area has been slavery of children in the mining of coltan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Coltan is used in mobile phones and laptops.
ACRATH is also educating people about ethical fashion shopping through using the publication of the Baptist World Fashion Guide.

Moving into Health System
Sr Louise Cleary has been working with a major Melbourne Hospital to develop a joint project to address human trafficking and slavery as they might impact on this healthcare system. Two areas of work have been identified:
• Recognising and supporting victims of human trafficking who might seek healthcare: women in sexual exploitation, young people facing forced marriage, people who have experienced forced labour
• Ensuring the supply chains for services and goods used by the hospital are slavery-free

ACRATH National Committee has received the new draft proposal and a budget of $60,000 to research this work. It is hoped that once completed, this model can be used with other Health Care Givers (such as Mercy Health). This research will go ahead in 2017.

Modern Slavery Inquiry
Last month, the Australian Government announced that it will be undertaking an inquiry into establishing legislation to combat modern slavery, comparable to the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.

ACRATH has attended four civil society planning sessions which are aiming to have around 40 civil society organisations submit to the Inquiry recommending similar steps.
From our research into the fashion, electronics and chocolate industries, we know that the supply chains of many Australian companies are marred by slavery and exploitation. We believe that it is critical for Australia to adopt legislation that requires companies to take greater responsibility for the human rights abuses in their supply chains…

ACRATH is represented at the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and slavery convened by the Attorney’ Genera’s Department and also the National Roundtable working parties on Supply Chains and Labour Exploitation.

At our Canberra Advocacy in 2016, 13 members met with 51 Members of Parliament from all states and territories. This included several Ministers, their staffs, and Shadow Ministers. Specific issues were raised with these members.

The ACRATH resource My Rights-My Future: Forced Marriage Kit for Australian Secondary Schools was developed with funding from the Attorney’ General’s Department. It has been uploaded to the Anti-Slavery Australia website to facilitate broader inclusion in the curriculum of secondary schools across Australia.

Training of senior Secondary teachers in Catholic Education in Victoria continued with a full day of training in October 2016. Lectures on “The Demand Side of Human Trafficking and Prostitution“ by Dr Stephen Fisher; “My Rights-My Future Forced Marriage Kit” Liz Payne (author of the kit) and “Forced Marriage, Risk Factors, Australian Response, Deceptive Recruitment and Supply Chains” by Professor Jennifer Burn.
L-r: Presenters Stephen Fisher, Liz Payne, Jennifer Burn.

Catholic Church
ACRATH has been in meetings with The Bishop’s Commission for Pastoral Life, the Communications and Research Offices of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office and the new and outgoing Australian Ambassadors to the Holy See.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher (Archdiocese of Sydney) made a statement to the NSW Parliamentary Enquiry on Trafficking. Bishop Terry Brady, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life also gave evidence at this same enquiry.

ACRATH is engaged with Anti-Slavery Australia, STOP THE TRAFFIK, Salvation Army Freedom Partnership, Baptist World Aid, Red Cross, Core Community Services, Catholic Mission, ACSJC
We have on-going contact with Talitha Kum, ANZRATH, RENATE, UNANIMA International, USCSATH, Stop Enslavement (US)

With information from the President’s report to the National Conference Feb. 2017, Reports of the Executive Officer Ms Christine Carolan and general Meeting Reports

- Carole McDonald rsm, Victorian Coordinator ACRATH