Women religious from around Australia have made their sixth annual pilgrimage to the nation's capital, to influence policies affecting people trafficked into Australia.
The fifteen women, Catholic sisters and their colleagues, spoke to 76 Members of Parliament and Ministerial staff, as well as Church leaders.
Acknowledging the current work of the Australian Government, particularly its willingness to collaborate with NGOs to develop social policy to address the issue of human trafficking, the women stated, “We believe effective legislation has grown out of the genuine collaboration between government and civil society. The process has included frank dialogue as well as formal national round tables at which stakeholders have discussed the issues.”
During the visit to Canberra the women, who are part of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), put four requests to the Members of Parliament; to support the new legislation Crimes Legislation Amendments (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012; to implement the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Dr Ngozi Ezeilo; to ensure Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) reaches 0.5% of our Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015, and 0.7% by 2020; to ensure that the supply chain of goods brought into Australia is slave-free.
They explained, “ACRATH asks the Australian government to require companies to take all reasonable steps to ensure the goods they import and sell in Australia are free of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking. The US has been leading globally in this area, taking a number of steps in this direction. Goods that are particularly vulnerable include cocoa, seafood, clothing (especially cotton), bricks and rugs from some countries.”
There has been some evidence of such goods being imported into Australia, having been produced by forced labour and trafficked people.