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Human trafficking and slavery on the rise

Red Cross' Support for Trafficked People Program has almost doubled since 2009.

Tuesday January 13, 2015

Trafficking of people and forcing someone to marry against their will are crimes in Australia.

A recent article published in The Australian examined a reported increase in human trafficking and slavery in Australia, with the exploitation of trafficked people working in industries such as agriculture, construction and hospitality on the rise.   

The government figures revealed a 57 per cent rise in new investigations by the Australian Federal Police into human trafficking and slavery over the past five years.  

Red Cross' Support for Trafficked People Program, which supports people as they recover from their human trafficking and forced marriage experiences, has almost doubled since 2009. Those on Red Cross' program are all referred by the Australian Federal Police.  

Previous efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery had focused on exploitation in the sex industry.  A spokeswoman from the Australian Institute of Criminology said that since forced labour became a standalone offence in Australian law in 2013, there have been more investigations and prosecutions.  

Ann Clark, Program Co-ordinator of the Red Cross Support for Trafficked People Program, said the nature of the crime was changing as awareness rose.  

"The trafficking organisers change their behaviours quite often in response to police enforcement activities.  Forced labour, forced marriage, there's a growing awareness of the diversity of trafficking."  

"The number of people referred to the Red Cross program has almost doubled since 2009. You really probably expect them to rise again unfortunately," Ms Clark said.  

People who have been trafficked or forced into marriage are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community.  They often don't know they're being exploited or don't appreciate the extent of their exploitation.  They are likely to have experienced trauma, physical and psychological abuse and have complex health and welfare needs.   

Red Cross provides comprehensive support to people who have been trafficked or forced into marriage, acts as an advocate to policy makers and service providers, and raises awareness in the community on how to recognise human trafficking and provide appropriate support.  

Find out more about Red Cross' Support for Trafficked People's Program.