Australia Makes Progress in the Fight Against Trafficking
Monday, June 22, 2009 3:05 PM

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a report on the trafficking of women for sexual purposes in Australia and the government’s efforts to combat it.  For the study, victims and witnesses to trafficking were interviewed between April and October 2007, and these oral testimonies were combined with information from law enforcement agencies and the justice system to give an overall picture of the scope of the problem of trafficking, what tools Australia currently has at its disposal for combating trafficking, and how successful Australia’s current anti-trafficking response has been.

In 2004 the Australian government created an Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons, and the next year Australia signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and updated their legislation on trafficking to conform with these guidelines.  Trafficking is a federal crime in Australia, and to better combat trafficking the Australian Federal Police designated a special branch, the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (TSETT), to deal with trafficking-related crimes. TSETT investigators receive special trainings, run collaboratively with NGOs specializing in human trafficking.  TSETT often works in tandem with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which uses a visa tracking framework to identify likely victims or perpetrators of trafficking.

But in spite of the tremendous efforts made by the Australian government in recent years to eliminate sex trafficking, the problem persists.  The report concluded with a series of recommendations for the government and agencies involved in the Australian anti-trafficking response.  These recommendations included:

  • Revise current visa protocols to encourage victims of trafficking to seek help without fear of police prosecution;
  • Ensure comprehensive, fully-funded government services for victims of trafficking;
  • Provide training for prosecutors on the unique problems associated with trafficking;
  • Build stronger relationships between agencies to ensure that knowledge and information are being shared; and
  • Monitor the response to anti-trafficking regulation and its impact on Australia at large.

To access the full report, please click here.  (PDF, 95 pages).

Compiled from: David, Fiona, “Trafficking of Women for Sexual Purposes,” Research and Public Policy Series, No. 95, Australian Institute of Criminology (2008).