It’s hard to imagine that in the modern world, and in Australia we are having to recognise that slavery exists in our communities. Modern slavery encompasses sex trafficking, people trafficking and forced labour.
This week, Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor paid tribute to Australian individuals and organisations who are leading the fight against these insidious practices and awarded the inaugural Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Awards, to community champions who are providing invaluable outreach, support services and advocacy for trafficked people.
The individual contribution award recipients are:
• Sister Louise Cleary, Chair of the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans
• Sister Pauline Coll, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans
• Federal Agent Jennifer Cullen, Australian Federal Police
• Dr Anne Gallagher, Special Adviser on Human Trafficking
• Dr Dianne Heriot, former Assistant Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
• Ms Fiona McLeod SC, and
• Ms Merima Trbojevic, Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Did you notice that all these freedom fighters are feisty and capable women?
The organisations ffightingslavery were also acknowledged
• the Australian Red Cross, Support for Trafficked People Program
• the Josephite Counter-Trafficking Project
• Project Respect
• Scarlet Alliance, and
• the Salvation Army, Safe House for Trafficked Women.
It’s a delicious irony that The Freedom Awards developed by Anti-Slavery Australia use federal funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act. For those who are caught up as victims of these crimes, there is a sense of karma around the fact that the Awards are funded from confiscated proceeds.
I met Sr Louise Cleary CSB, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) recently when she was lobbying in Parliement House and her passion for her work is inspirational. Sr Louise has made a significant and dynamic contribution to the ongoing work of ACRATH in raising the community profile of human trafficking both internationally and in Australia, inspiring collaboration between community groups and identifying the need for legislative and policy change.
Sister Pauline Coll SGSa member of the Good Samaritan order and was the inaugural chair and a driving force of ACRATH. Sister Pauline has been indefatigable in her personal endeavours to get human trafficking on the government and community agenda, forging effective and enduring partnerships with a range of diverse groups.
Jennifer Cullen, Federal Agent, Australian Federal Police worked as National Coordinator of the AFP Human Trafficking Team with oversight of police investigations in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. She has developed a two-week residential program for senior investigators and oversaw investigations resulting in criminal prosecutions and convictions.
Dr Anne Gallagher worked with the UN from 1992 to 2003, the last five years as Special Adviser on Human Trafficking to the High Commissioner for Human Rights. From 2003 to 2011, she headed the AusAID-funded ARTIP project to help develop more effective criminal justice responses to human trafficking in the ASEAN region.Dr Diane Heriot, a senior public servant, had key involvement in developing and implementing the Australian Government’s anti-people trafficking strategy. Shehad oversight of legislative developments in response to Australia’s ratification of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol and steered the development of the National Roundtable on People Trafficking, bringing together government, key stakeholders and community to consult about Australian responses to people trafficking.
Fiona McLeod SC has been a pioneer in the field of anti-slavery and trafficking in Australia, in particular as a legal representative and advisor to victims. Ms McLeod is a prominent Melbourne barrister, and Senior Counsel. She was counsel in two landmark cases in Australia concerning slavery and human trafficking.
Merima Trbojevic, is the Assistant Manager in the NSW Compliance Trafficking and Liaison, Status Resolution Field Team in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. She has been an Immigration officer for 11 years, and for the past five years, has worked with men and women trafficked, enslaved and exploited in Australia.
The Australian Red Cross – Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program
Recipient – Francesca Pagani, National Program Coordinator. This provides intensive casework support to people who have been made vulnerable by people trafficking and who are engaged in judicial proceedings.
Josephite Counter-Trafficking Project Recipient – Sister Margaret Ng SoSJ
The JCTP)\ is a Congregational Ministry that responds to the needs of trafficked women. They provide culturally-sensitive mentoring to enable women who have been trafficked to Australia to make informed choices. .
Project Respect Recipient – Kelly Hinton, Executive Director, Project Respect is a has provided direct support and outreach to women in the sex industry, including victims of trafficking, since 1998. and have had an active engagement in the development of Australian legal and policy responses to trafficking of women.
Scarlet Alliance r eceived by Jules Kim, Migration Project Manager, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association Scarlet Alliance is the national peak body representing the interests of sex workers and sex worker organisations, projects, groups and networks in Australia. .
The Salvation Army Safe House for Trafficked Women received by Jenny Stanger, Supervisor Salvation Army, Samaritan Accommodation.
In 2008, the Salvation Army opened a safe house for trafficked women. The safe house provides secure accommodation for women and individual support including crisis assistance, legal, health, training and job assistance.
It’s so good to see these awards being announced in Social Inclusion Week, highlighting the way vulnerable groups, often invisible to most of us, are able to have a voice through these fantastic advocates. Congratulations everyone!