Chapter 5 Support for victims of trafficking and slavery
Victims of trafficking and slavery in Australia are provided support
through various programs administered by both the Australian Government and
non-government organisations (NGOs).
This chapter will provide an outline of the facilities that are
currently available to victims of trafficking, slavery or slavery-like
conditions in Australia as well as an examination of suggested additional
support mechanisms for victims of trafficking.
People trafficking visa framework
In its submission, the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) commented on
the types of visas available to foreign nationals who are suspected victims of
The Australian Government People Trafficking Visa Framework,
administered by DIAC [Department of Immigration and Citizenship], enables
foreign nationals who do not already hold a valid visa, and are suspected
victims of trafficking, to remain lawfully in Australia. They are then, like
other valid visa holders who are suspected victims of trafficking, able to
access support through the Support Program. The Visa Framework comprises three
visas: the Bridging F visa (BVF), the Criminal Justice Stay visa (CJSV), and
the Witness Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa (WPTV).
The AGD added that the suspected victim can be granted a BVF for up to
45 days initially, stating:
A person assessed by the police as a suspected victim of
trafficking may be eligible for a BVF for up to 45 days, irrespective of his or
her willingness or ability to assist in the criminal justice process. BVFs can
also be granted to immediate family members in Australia. There are no work rights
associated with BVFs, but holders receive intensive support through the
Assessment Stream of the Support Program. On the expiry of the first BVF, in
cases where a suspected victim is willing, but not able, to assist police,
there is also an option to grant a second BVF for a further 45 days (taking the
total to 90 days). During this time, the suspected victim would continue to receive
support through the Extended Intensive Support Stream of the Support Program.
The ADG noted that after the BVF expires:
… a CJSV may be granted to a suspected victim of trafficking
who is willing and able to assist with the criminal justice process. CJSVs enable
holders to remain in Australia for as long as they are required for law
enforcement purposes. CJSV holders are allowed to work, and also receive
support under the Justice Support Stream of the Support Program.
At the conclusion of the criminal justice process, suspected victims of
trafficking may be eligible for the WPTV. The AGD’s submission states:
A suspected victim of trafficking who has made a contribution
to an investigation or prosecution of an alleged trafficking offence may be
eligible for a WPTV if, as a result of that contribution, they would be in
danger upon return to their home country. WPTVs allow holders to remain in
Australia permanently. Immediate family members may be included in WPTV
DIAC also noted the need for victims to make a contribution to a
prosecution of the slavery and trafficking offences, stating:
To be eligible for a visa, victims need to make a contribution
to a prosecution of an offence under Division 270 or 271 of the Criminal Code
or to an investigation in relation to such an offence where the Director of
Public Prosecutions has decided not to prosecute, and also meet the additional
criteria set out in regulation 2.07AK(3) of the regulations. There is no
requirement for a perpetrator to be in Australia for the grant of a WPTV nor is
the grant of a WPTV reliant on a prosecution.
During a public hearing, DIAC provided some details about the number of visas
that had been granted in the last five years noting that:
n between 2009-2012
DIAC granted 56 bridging F visas (33 in 2009-10, 24 in 2010-11 and 12 in
n between 2008-2012
DIAC granted 99 criminal justice stay visas (30 in 2008-09, 23 in 2009-10, 29 in
2010-11 and 17 in 2011-12).
Table 5.1 People trafficking visas granted between 2003 -
Bridging F Visa
Visa framework not
legislative change 1 July 2009
2012- (Mar 31)
of Immigration and Citizenship, Supplementary Submission 74, p. 1.
DIAC also advised that since the introduction of the people trafficking
visa framework on 1 January 2004, ’19 trafficked people had been granted a
Witness Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) Visa before the case they had
contributed to was finalised.’
Concerns about the trafficking visa framework
The 45 day ‘reflection and recovery’ period
A number of groups that provided evidence to the inquiry raised concerns
about the current visa trafficking framework including the initial grant of the
BVF for 45 days.
The Josephite Counter‐Trafficking
Project (JCTP) put forward the view that 45 days was not adequate for a trafficked
victim to assess their options, stating:
45 days do not give a person who has been traumatised by the
trafficking process … adequate time for reflection to make a well informed
decision about their options.
The JCTP called on the Australian Government ‘to implement the 90 days
‘reflection and recovery’ period to all trafficked persons regardless of their
ability or willingness to assist in an investigation.’
Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Law
Council of Australia (LCA), Anti‑Slavery Australia (ASA), and the Australian
Human Rights Commission (AHRC) all agreed with that view.
ASA recommended that:
…any person identified by law enforcement as a ‘suspected
victim of human trafficking’ may access a visa and support for 90 days, instead
of the current 45 days.
In particular the AHRC pointed out that the 90 day time frame was in
line with the United Nations (UN) Trafficking Protocol, stating:
The Commission supports the Special Rapporteur’s
recommendation to extend the 45-day period for which a Bridging visa F is
available to 90 days for all persons identified or provisionally identified as
having been trafficked. The Commission notes that this is a period in which the
victim of trafficking will need to make some critical decisions and it would be
more appropriate and in accordance with article 6 of the Trafficking Protocol
to extend the period for a Bridging visa F to 90 days.
Ms Briana Lee noted another UN article (under the United Nations Model
Law against Trafficking in Persons) that victims are ‘provided 90 days of
support services regardless of their immigration status or ability and
willingness to participate in legal procedures.’
Professor Andreas Schloenhardt of the University of Queensland commented
that victims were less likely to provide evidence under pressure, stating:
Despite the 15-day increase in the duration of the visa,
there remain concerns that the initial 45-day reflection period is
insufficient. This is particularly so, given that trafficked persons often
remain under the influence of their former captors and require a substantial
period of re-adjustment in order to make decisions independently of this
influence. Indeed, international best practice suggests that a victim is less
likely to provide evidence under pressure.
In the report on her mission to Australia in November 2011, Ms Joy Ngozi
Ezeilo OON, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, recommended extending the
reflection and recovery period to 90 days, stating:
…the Special Rapporteur observes that the initial reflection
period of 45 days is very short. Although an extended period of reflection is
possible, in reality it was reported that a second Bridging Visa F will only be
granted in situations where victims can evidence extreme trauma. A 45-day
reflection period may not be an adequate time period for persons who have been
trafficked to reflect and make critical decisions. An initial automatic
reflection period of 90 days for all persons would be more appropriate and in
accordance with article 6 of the Trafficking Protocol.
At a public hearing, DIAC stated that the 45-day reflection and recovery
period was sufficient:
The view of government—and I think the view of the
departments which administer the policy—has been that that 45-day period has
been sufficient to get an indication of engagement from people who have been
involved in trafficking and wish to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies.
… But our visa issuing is reflective of the advice we receive from the AFP
[Australian Federal Police] about what is an appropriate response. I do not
think that there is sufficient evidence, on the basis of the characteristics of
the case load or the advice we receive from the AFP, to change the initial visa
period from the 45 days to the 90 days.
The AFP also advised that the 45-day period was sufficient, stating:
In the majority of cases, the 45 days is sufficient for the
victim or client to determine whether they are willing and able to assist an
investigation. There are some instances where there may be mental health or
medical issues where an extension to the 45 days is required, but the vast
majority are able to determine whether they are willing to assist within those
The AGD put forward the view that the 45-day period was consistent with
the UN High Commission for Human Rights recommended principles and guidelines
on human rights and human trafficking.
The AGD added that:
It is our assessment that that initial period of 45 days is
appropriate, in particular, because work rights do not actually attach to the
bridging F visa, and accommodation during that initial 45-day period is
short-term crisis accommodation. Our experience is that many victims are keen
to move on. In particular they are keen to obtain or return to work, and they
are keen to move out of the crisis accommodation. So, our perception is that
the 45 days is adequate for them to receive initial rehabilitation and then
they want to move on.
The Committee notes the concerns of many groups and individuals that the
45 day ‘reflection and recovery’ period for victims of trafficking is
The Committee also notes article 30(3) of the UN Model Law against
Trafficking in Persons which states:
Any [natural] person who believes he or she is a victim of
trafficking in persons shall have the right to submit a written request to the
[competent immigration authority] to be granted a recovery and reflection
period of not less than 90 days in order to make an informed decision on
whether to cooperate with the competent authorities.
Victims of slavery and people trafficking have had their basic human
rights seriously violated. In many cases, they have been exploited physically,
emotionally and mentally. The emotional effects this trauma can be persistent
and devastating. Trafficking victims need an appropriate time to ‘reflect and
recover’ prior to making a decision on whether they are willing and able to
assist in an investigation.
The Committee considers that the current automatic reflection period of
45 days is appropriate. At the conclusion of the 45 day period, the suspected
victim of trafficking should be able to apply for two additional 45 day periods
on the basis of evidence of psychological trauma in order to decide on whether
they are willing and able to assist in an investigation.
The suspected victims of trafficking should be provided appropriate
support services through the Support for Trafficked People Program (STPP).
The Committee recommends that suspected victims of
trafficking be provided an initial automatic reflection period of 45 days,
with relevant agencies given the capability to grant two further extensions
of 45 days if required. In addition, the suspected victims of trafficking
should be provided appropriate support services through the Support for
Trafficked People Program.
Additional concerns about the trafficking visa framework
Several groups that provided evidence for this inquiry also raised some
additional concerns about the current visa trafficking framework including increasing
the access to benefit payments for trafficking victims, delinking the trafficking
visa from the criminal justice system, and granting permanent visas for
trafficking victims. A few groups also put forward some alternatives to the
current visa trafficking framework.
Benefit payments for trafficking victims
The Australian Red Cross (ARC) highlighted some issues for trafficked
visa holders’ access to services, stating:
n Access to and eligibility
for most services is tied to the visas under the Framework and not to initial
referral to the STPP;
n The temporary nature
of the Criminal Justice Stay Visa (CJSV) means that holders are ineligible for
many services in the community;
n Witness Protection
Trafficking Visa (WPTV) holders are ineligible for a number of supports and
face restrictions in accessing services provided to other Australian Permanent
n CJSV and WPTV holders
are only eligible for one type of Centrelink payment, namely the Special
Benefit payment, which has many restrictions.
The ARC recommended holders of a WPTV have greater access to benefit
Clients eligible to access Centrelink Special Benefit are
eligible to access other Centrelink payments and services in order to support
their work and study opportunities without any waiting period.
ACRATH suggested that individuals who have been granted a WPTV be
provided the same entitlements as individuals on protection visas:
This would improve access to Social Security payments and
remove the requirement that the Witness Protection Trafficking visa holders are
subject to the 2 year waiting period; it would also reduce the length of time
on the low paid Special Benefits.
ASA agreed that the individuals on a WPTV should have access to social
A better framework would be to reclassify the Witness
Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa for social security payments, in the
same way that a Protection visa is classified.
The Salvation Army also agreed that individuals on a WPTV should be able
to access more appropriate benefit payments.
ASA commented that individuals on a WPTV were disadvantaged compared
with holders of other visas granted on refugee or protection grounds:
In light of the link between visa status and social security
entitlement, we observe that while victim‐witnesses
who hold the Criminal Justice Stay visa or who are granted the Witness
Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa are eligible to access Medicare and
limited social security payments, they are disadvantaged in comparison with
holders of other visas granted on refugee or protection grounds. If a victim‐witness is certified
by the Attorney‐General
as having made a contribution to a police investigation or criminal prosecution
they may be granted the permanent visa, but the visa type is restricted and
they are subject to the 2 year waiting period for more favourable Centrelink
ASA added that:
…if a victim‐witness holds a
Witness Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa and is in receipt of Special
Benefit social security payments, then any compensation that they receive, for
example, through a statutory victims’ compensation scheme, will be treated as
income and the Special Benefit will cease during the time that the compensation
award is exhausted through day to day living expenses.
The JCTP recommended re-categorising the WPTV as a humanitarian visa to
increase the access to humanitarian services:
The Witness Protection Trafficking Permanent Visa is not categorised
as a humanitarian visa and this limits access to humanitarian services. These
settlement services are particularly important with Trafficked people who have
children offshore who are all granted permanent residency in Australia.
Delinking the trafficking visa from the criminal justice system
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) commented that the visa framework was
too closely tied to the criminal justice system:
…members of [the Law Council’s] Constituent Bodies note the
limited eligibility for visas for victims of trafficking under the People
Trafficking Visa Framework (the Framework). …to become eligible for visas,
victims are generally still obliged under the Framework to contribute to a
police investigation against the persons who trafficked them. As observed by
one of the Law Council’s Constituent Bodies, the New South Wales Bar
Association (NSW Bar), this not only makes a victim’s ability to stay in
Australia and access services dependant on the discretion of police and
prosecutors, but also on arbitrary factors such as whether their traffickers
are still in Australia. A Human Rights based approach would provide victims
with a right to stay in Australia based on their need to access services. It
would also enable them to stay as long as they need those services or if they
are at risk of harm if deported.
The LCA also voiced concerns that victims may be discouraged from
seeking a visa if required to contribute to an investigation and the eligibility
of applying for a WPTV:
Members of the NSW Bar are also concerned that the
requirement that victims must contribute to an investigation may discourage
victims from seeking a visa, as they may fear reprisals against themselves or
against their families. They also note that, even if a victim does give
evidence, to be eligible for a Witness Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent)
Visa it must be demonstrated that he or she would be in danger upon returning
home. This may be difficult to establish, and may not take into account the
possibility that the victim will be ultimately re-trafficked due to
Ms Brianna Lee also commented about the requirement for victims to
contribute to a criminal investigation:
One issue with the current support program is the requirement
for victims to contribute to criminal investigations and prosecutions in order
to qualify for temporary and permanent visas or access the government funded
Professor Schloenhardt advised the Committee that the criminal justice
approach of the trafficking visa framework was problematic for three main
n victims continue to
be seen ultimately as tools for investigations and prosecutions, and not as
victims of a serious crime;
n the ability of
victims to cooperate will often be limited by the trauma they have experienced,
mistrust or misunderstanding of law enforcement, and a fear of reprisals
against them or their family if they are returned to their country of origin;
n the criminal justice
approach risks further traumatising victims by making permanent protection
largely contingent on involvement in investigations and prosecutions exposing
them to the risk of painful courtroom experiences and putting victims and their
families at risk of reprisal if they testify against their traffickers.
Christian Faith and Freedom also recommended delinking the current visa
Reform the current visa regime to protect all victims of
trafficking and slavery, seeking to prevent re-enslavement and re-trafficking
of victims, regardless of their cooperation with authorities.
The ARC advised that there were limitations to the criminal justice
This means that people who have been trafficked who are
unable or do not wish to participate in the justice process beyond the
Assessment phase of the program lose access to the specialised support service
and to the People Trafficking Visa Framework. This therefore also limits the
migration options available to such people to remain in Australia.
The ARC added:
However, there are other trafficked people in Australia for
whom the protection visa process is not an option and whose support
opportunities are even more limited. These people may obtain no support, or not
even be identified as a trafficked person when coming into contact with the
Project Respect suggested continuing the criminal justice approach in
addition to establishing a parallel process:
We would suggest retaining the current model, which is
attached to the criminal justice process, where women are referred on by the
police but also having a model running alongside that where women are
identified by accredited NGOs. They would then be entitled to the same sort of
support and a visa with the idea of developing the trust and becoming settled
enough to decide if they want to participate in the criminal justice process,
recognising that this is a crime that has happened to women, in this case, on
our soil and that we should protect them whether they are willing to engage in
the criminal justice process or not.
At a public hearing, DIAC commented that a departmental review in 2009
found that the visa ‘framework should still stay linked to the criminal justice
nature of Australia's efforts on people trafficking.’
I am aware of the special rapporteur's commentary on this and
also the Senate committee's recommendation, but I think it is fair to say that
has only recently been made and there has been no formal response from
government to that.
The AFP, in response to a question on whether threshold for access to
the criminal justice stay visa be lowered to 'willing to assist', advised that
I think a willingness to do so is enough. There is a whole
range of circumstances we need to look at here. Whilst it may be that they are
willing to assist in the first instance, and we are happy to work with them in
that regard, it may be because of … health issues or a change of heart down the
track that they may change their mind. We accept that because we understand
some of the conditions they have been subject to. From our perspective,
willingness to assist is a good starting point and we can work with that.
The AGD did not believe that the criminal justice framework should be
completely separated from the trafficking visa:
Human trafficking and slavery prosecutions rely heavily on
witness assistance and testimony, and the complete de-linking of witness
assistance and visa provisions from the criminal justice framework may affect
the success of prosecutions.
Granting permanent visas for trafficking victims
The JCTP indicated that it would be helpful to grant permanent visas to suspected
victims of trafficking, stating:
It would be helpful if a permanent visa is given within 6
months after the CJSV is issued and that those who are unable to participate in
a criminal investigation be eligible for this visa on compassionate grounds.
The Salvation Army agreed with the JCTP’s view commenting that ‘the
Australian Federal Police/Department of Immigration and Citizenship commence
permanent visas as soon as victims sign their witness statements.’
ASA also recommended reviewing the timing of when a permanent visa is
issued to trafficking victims:
Witnesses who have made a contribution to the criminal
justice process and who would be in danger if they return to their home country
may be offered a permanent visa. Investigations of complex crimes can be time‐consuming, involve
multiple jurisdictions and require translation and interpretation of foreign
language material. An unforseen consequence is that victims may experience uncertainty
about their long‐term
security and face continued separation from their family members, often young
children, for long periods of time. We recommend that the currently operating
informal policy about the timing of a recommendation to consider offering a
permanent visa, (usually within three months of a decision to charge or not to
charge a person with a criminal offence) should be reviewed.
ASA also recommended granting a permanent visa in some circumstances
when a trafficking victim is either unwilling or unable to provide a
contribution to a police investigation or a criminal prosecution.
Professor Schloenhardt suggested allowing victims to initiate the
application for a protection visa, stating:
…allowing victims to initiate the application process for a
Witness Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa (as opposed to waiting for an
invitation) or implementing standard and regular reviews of the status of the
victim with a view to whether a protection visa is required should also be
The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) recommended that all
trafficking victims be given access to permanent visas:
ALHR recommends that all victims of trafficking be able to
access permanent visa options, regardless of whether they are identified by the
AFP and/or decide to participate in the criminal justice process.
The ALHR also recommended:
…that permanent visa options be accessible for those victims
of slavery, forced marriage, forced labour and other offences identified in the
Bill where appropriate. This would reflect their status as a victim pursuant to
the Trafficking Protocol, in particular, under Articles 6 and 7 of the
Alternatives to the current visa trafficking framework
The Salvation Army recommended that an alternative to the current visa
trafficking framework be considered:
The Salvation Army recommends that the Australian government
consider a self-petitioning visa process within the migration system for
victims of trafficking/slavery and review how similar visas are provided in the
United States, Italy, Belgium and other countries.
Project Respect also proposed an alternative to the current visa
trafficking framework calling on:
…the creation of a ‘Social Protection Visa’ particularly
fashioned for victims of trafficking would function independently from the
judicial path that is based on willingness to ‘contribute’ to police
investigations. It shall be the role of accredited NGOs to identify and
determine the eligibility of the individuals for a Protection Visa, which
should have a fixed duration of 12 months.
The Australian Human Rights Commission recommended that the visa
framework be amended to provide victims of child trafficking with a permanent
… amend the visa framework for victims of trafficking to
ensure every person who is identified as a victim of child trafficking and who
would face danger if returned to their country of origin is eligible for a
permanent visa, regardless of whether they participate in law enforcement
Delay in processing of trafficking visas
The Salvation Army advised that it was their experience that there are substantial
delays, of over two years in some cases, in the granting of a trafficking visa.
The Salvation Army added:
The process is quite simple in comparison to other migration
pathways that individuals undertake; and, as a result of the delay, clients are
less inclined to proceed down that pathway. … They are more inclined to proceed
under the protection visa pathway.
DIAC provided some details on how long it takes to grant a trafficking
n The BVF is usually
granted on the same day that a valid application is made.
n The CJSV is usually
granted on the same day as the Criminal Justice Stay Certificate (CJSC) is
n The Witness
Protection (Trafficking) (Permanent) visa is usually granted within one week of
the department receiving all of the documentation required for grant.
DIAC added that there are some external factors that influence the visa
As applicants are victims of trafficking the department takes
a flexible approach to timeframes for provision of documents. However, some
factors in processing the visa are outside the department's control and
influence the processing timeframe. This includes obtaining information from
overseas, such as offshore police certificates, evidence of name changes,
custody documentation, health information and translation of documentation. In
some countries obtaining documentation can take significant time.
The ARC also made a number of recommendations focussed on increasing
access to services for individuals on a trafficking visa. The ARC recommended
n the names of the
Criminal Justice Stay and Witness Protection Trafficking Visas be changed to
address identified concerns; including avoiding stigmatisation and to ensure
confidentiality and respect for the privacy and integrity of victims of
n State and Territory
Government Housing support services across the country allow people who have
been trafficked and are on temporary visas to access their services via an
n trafficked people be
charged local student rates at higher education and training institutions
regardless of visa status;
n access to the Adult
Migrant Education Program be available to all trafficked people, regardless of
settlement support services be made available to people who have been
trafficked and their dependents once they receive a Witness Protection Trafficking
n access to services
including Centrelink, Housing and Education be de-linked from the visa
sub-class for trafficked people.
The Committee acknowledges the concerns raised by the many NGOs, civil
society organisations, and individuals that provided evidence for this inquiry
into the current visa trafficking framework.
The Committee notes that in its inquiry into the Crimes Legislation
Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012
the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee considered the
establishment of a visa and support stream which is not dependent on a victim
assisting in the criminal justice system.
The Committee notes the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s
…the Australian Government review the People Trafficking Visa
Framework and the Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program, and
consider establishing an ongoing visa and access to victim support mechanism
which is not conditional on a victim of people trafficking providing assistance
in the criminal justice process.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government review the
People Trafficking Visa Framework and the Support for Victims of People
Trafficking Program, and consider establishing an ongoing visa and access to
victim support mechanism that is conditional upon victim assistance in the
criminal justice process but not on securing a conviction.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government
consider Recommendation 3 of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs
report on the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions
and People Trafficking) Bill 2012, having regard to the need to ensure that
even if assistance does not lead to a conviction, it is still substantial in
terms of giving assistance to authorities.
Support for trafficked people program
The STPP is administered by the Department of Families, Housing,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). Between 2004 and 2009 the delivery
of the STPP was initially provided by Southern Edge Training. In March 2009 the
ARC was engaged by FaHCSIA to deliver the program.
The STPP has an annual appropriation of $0.755 million and ‘will receive
an addition $1.2 million in funding from 2011-12 to 2014-15, bringing the
annual amount to $1.055 million per year between 2011-12 to 2014-15.’
At a public hearing, FaHCSIA provided some additional details about the
funding for the program, stating:
Since 2009 the government has committed additional funding to
the support program for the Women's Safety Agenda. This is on top of the annual
appropriation of $755,000. The government provided an additional $120,000 in
2009-10 and an additional $300,000 in 2010-11. In March 2012 the Minister for
the Status of Women announced an additional $300,000 per year to 2014-15. This
brings the annual funding of the support program to $1,055,000, or $4.22
million for the four years from 2011-12.
Suspected victims of trafficking obtain entry to the STPP through a
referral by the AFP.
The AGD commented that entry into the STPP was not dependent upon
participation in a criminal justice process adding that individuals who were
not willing to provide assistance to law enforcement could leave the STPP.
In a submission, the AGD noted that suspected victims had been identified
through a number of avenues:
Possible victims may be identified through a number of
avenues, including immigration officials, law enforcement agencies, NGOs,
hospitals, medical practitioners, consulates and government departments.
Possible victims are referred to the AFP for assessment and, where appropriate,
entry to the Support Program.
The AGD added that:
The Support Program seeks to ensure that clients have access
to accommodation, income support, counselling, medical treatment, legal and
migration advice, skills development training and interpreter services as
The AGD pointed out that people who are going to be in Australia for a
long time, and are participating in or assisting a criminal justice process,
will be more likely to access housing and English-language classes.
The AGD advised that suspected victims of trafficking may access support
through the following streams:
n Assessment Stream –
up to 45 days of intensive support for all clients referred by the AFP,
irrespective of whether they are willing and/or able to assist with an
investigation and prosecution of a people trafficking offence;
n Extended Intensive
Support Stream – an additional 45 days of intensive support for clients who are
willing but not able to assist with an investigation and/or prosecution because
of trauma or health issues;
n Justice Support
Stream – support while the client participates in the criminal justice process;
n Transitional Period –
a 20 day transition period for clients leaving the Support Program; and
n Temporary Trial
Support Stream – temporary support for victims who return to Australia to
participate in a trial.
As of 14 May 2013, 209 suspected victims of trafficking had been
identified and referred to the STPP since it was established in 2004.
Of the 209 suspected victims:
n 188 were female and
21 were male;
n 164 were trafficking
into the sex industry and 45 were trafficked into other industries;
n 82 were from
Thailand, 35 from South Korea, 33 from Malaysia, 10 from the Philippines, 12
from China, 8 from Indonesia, and 21 from other countries.
As noted above, the ARC stated that it had ‘been managing the Program
since March 2009 and recently signed a Funding Agreement with the Australian
Government to continue service provision until 2015.’
The ARC provided some details about the number of people it had supported
as part of the STPP since its engagement, stating:
Since March 2009 Red Cross has supported 114 people that have
been referred to the Program and who have remained for periods ranging from one
week to seven years.
The ARC added:
One hundred and one of our clients have been women but in the
last eighteen months, the majority of new referrals have been men. As of August
2012, there were sixty-four clients on the Program.
The AFP advised that some trafficked individuals have chosen not to
enter the STPP, stating:
There are a range of reasons why a suspected victim of
trafficking may not want to enter the full support program. In some
circumstances they have been in the country for quite some time and have
established other networks in which, for example, they may have a spousal visa
and not require the support of the program. In other circumstances they would
rather not use the program but they have established networks with perhaps a
local NGO who is providing a range of support services. They may have obtained
a migration adviser and come to other arrangements for themselves and they do
not require it. Obviously, there are others who simply do not want to
The AFP also pointed out that it was providing assistance to other
trafficking victims who were not part of the STPP, stating:
…the AFP has a number of victims with whom it is currently
engaged and who are not part of the support program, but are still willing and
able to assist the investigation into their particular circumstances.
FaHCSIA highlighted that the administrative arrangements of the STPP
were reviewed in 2011 by FaHCSIA and the Red Cross.
Suggested additional support for victims of trafficking
Compensation scheme for victims of trafficking
During the course of this inquiry a number of groups recommended
establishing a compensation scheme for victims of trafficking.
The JCTP commented that trafficking victims are unable to access
Human Trafficking is an offence in Federal Legislation but is
not part of the States’ Legislative Framework. This is a problem for Trafficked
persons who cannot access compensation for the crime that has been committed
against them. They have to seek the closest appropriate parameters and use
surrounding circumstances to determine under which crime in State legislation
they can apply for compensation.
The JCTP, Project Respect, Ms Lee, the LCA, ASA, and ACRATH noted that
compensation claims vary in each State and Territory, ranging from $7,500 to
ACRATH highlighted that it had provided assistance to several victims of
trafficking to make compensation claims through the Victorian Victims of Crime
Assistance Tribunal (the Tribunal). ACRATH noted that while the claimants were
awarded the full amount by the Tribunal ($7,500 or $10,000 depending on when
they were trafficked), the Tribunal’s magistrate commented that it was not
ACRATH indicated its preference for a ‘nationally uniform state-based
scheme of compensation.’
The LCA also put forward its views on how a compensation scheme might be
We could introduce a pilot Commonwealth scheme for the
payment which is linked to the protection and trafficking visa framework at
this stage. Our goal, however, is to press for a federal compensation scheme
which addresses those federal crimes that have direct impact upon victims,
particularly victims of violence.
The National Tertiary Education Union recommended that ‘the Australian
government make efforts to improve the access of trafficking victims to
opportunities to seek financial compensation and civil remedies.’
The Scarlet Alliance also called on the Australian government to
increase avenues for statutory compensation.
Project Respect suggested establishing a national compensation scheme
for victims of sex trafficking.
Professor Schloenhardt and the AHRC highlighted Australia’s obligations
under article 25(2) of the United Nations Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime as well as protocol article 6(6) United Nations Protocol
to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and
Children supplementing the Convention on Transnational Crime, which require
state parties to establish appropriate procedures to provide access to
The AHRC also noted some obstacles preventing trafficking victims from
making a compensation claim, including:
n obtaining legal advice
about claiming compensation;
n a lack of visa
options to stay in Australia to pursue compensation claims;
n limited legal avenues
to pursue compensation claims; and
n a need to improve
access for victims to information and legal services for assistance with making
The AHRC recommended that Australian Government develop a federal
victims’ compensation scheme for victims of trafficking, slavery and slavery
In addition to Australia’s international obligations, ASA highlighted
the view of the Australian Law Reform Commission on the effectiveness of
compensation schemes, that:
Like restitution orders, victims’ compensation schemes
provide a more informal and efficient forum than civil litigation. They are
also more effective in that victims have access to a pool of dedicated funds,
whereas restitution from an offender depends upon the offender’s capacity to
ASA pointed out some practical problems associated with trafficking
victims apply for compensation, stating:
n Slavery and human
trafficking are Commonwealth offences and, (with the exception of sexual
servitude offences), there are no State or Territory offences which correspond
precisely to the criminal acts envisaged in the Commonwealth legislation;
n the breadth of the
elements of the offences as set out in the relevant Divisions of the Criminal
Code Act 1995 (Cth) are not reflected in the State/Territory schemes,
especially where there is an absence of physical violence;
n in situations where
there may be a claim under a State/Territory scheme, it is usually the case
that only certain elements of the crime, such as the sexual assault element are
compensable under those schemes; and
n they risk failure
because the various schemes either do not contain an appropriate category under
which a person can apply or do not reflect the breadth of criminality as set
out in the Commonwealth offences.
ASA also highlighted concerns with jurisdictional victim compensation
legislation noting that under the recent legislation passed by the NSW
Government, the Victims Rights and Support Bill 2013:
n slavery and
slavery-like offences are possibly included in the below definition of a
‘Category B recognition payment’ there are likely to be instances where
violence was not involved and therefore a NSW victim may fall outside the ambit
of the new Scheme; and
n the proposed maximum
‘recognition payment’ of $10,000 falls well below the $50,000 available under
the previous NSW scheme and even further below the $75,000 available to victims
in Queensland, and Western Australia.
ASA recommend establishing a national compensation scheme for victims of
slavery, trafficking and related crimes, suggesting four possible models:
n Model 1: the
establishment of a new Federal tribunal to administer a Federal victims’
compensation scheme or increasing the jurisdiction of a current Federal
tribunal or other administrative body to determine compensation claims by
victims of Federal crimes.
n Model 2: ex‐gratia payments are
made available to victims of crime where their circumstances would exclude them
from claiming under the state victims’ compensation scheme.
n Model 3: that the
Commonwealth nominate one State or Territory compensation scheme and legislate
for that particular scheme to exercise Federal jurisdiction.
n Model 4: compensation
payments to be made to victims from the Consolidated Revenue Fund through
appropriation by the Parliament.
The Salvation Army recommended mandatory compensation in cases where
trafficking offenders have been convicted, stating:
The Salvation Army recommends that the Commonwealth establish
a compensation scheme for all victims of trafficking, slavery and related
offences. In cases where there is a conviction, such compensation should be
The ALHR also supported the introduction of a federal compensation
Dr Anne Gallagher AO, provided an international law perspective on
compensation, advising that:
…the victims of crime and human rights violations, the people
have been trafficked or people who have subject to this kind of exploitation
have an internationally recognised legal right to a remedy the damages,
including unpaid wages and damages for the harm committed against them.
Dr Gallagher put forward the view that a federally funded compensation
scheme might be appropriate but recommended a review of the current
What I do see in Australia is a need to do a thorough review,
a rigorous assessment of the current arrangements, to figure out what is
working and what is not working, why certain victims have not received the
support they may in fact have been legally entitled to, how other aspects of
Australia's response to trafficking—for example, issues related to return of
victims, issues related to victims as witnesses—impact on the capacity of
victims to access remedies and for them to move on from there.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) pointed out that
the recent amendment to the Crimes Act, in particular paragraph
21B(1)(d), ‘allows an individual victim to be awarded reparations for any loss
suffered or any expense incurred by reason of the offence.’
However, the AGD in its response to questions on notice from the Senate
Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, as part of its inquiry
into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and
People Trafficking) Bill 2012, stated that section 21B(1) of the Crimes Act
deals with reparations, not compensation.
AGD acknowledged the differences in State/Territory compensation schemes
but advised that there was no intention to establish a national scheme:
At this stage there is no intention to go beyond that to
erect a national compensation scheme. There is a range of different
considerations that would go into that—for example, whether it should be
limited to particular classes of victims and the amount of compensation which
should be established. Traditionally, it has been a matter for states and
territories because they deal so much more with individual human victims. At
this stage, there has not been any decision to move to a national compensation
AGD did note that a ‘national approach to victims’ compensation was
considered by the former Standing Committee of Attorneys-General’, adding:
In March 2008, Ministers agreed that an officers’ working
group should report back to Ministers on a comparison of victims’ rights
schemes in jurisdictions, considering best practice approaches including a
national approach to victims’ compensation. The working group determined that a
national approach to victims of crime compensation is not feasible.
AGD also highlighted that steps had been taken to provide greater
consistency for victims’ rights across jurisdictions:
All Australian jurisdictions have recently agreed to the
National Framework of Rights and Services for Victims of Crime 2013-2016.
Ministers endorsed this framework on 4 April 2013. The framework aims to ensure
greater consistency between jurisdictions in support of victims’ rights, and
will allow better coordination of services across the Commonwealth, States and
The Committee notes that, in its inquiry into the Crimes Legislation
Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012,
the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee considered reparations
for victims of trafficking and slavery as well as establishing a federal
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended, that:
…the Australian Government further investigate the
establishment of a federal compensation scheme for victims of slavery and
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government further
investigate the establishment of a federal compensation scheme for proven
victims of slavery and people trafficking. The Committee is of the view that
the compensation fund should be funded by persons convicted of these crimes.
The Committee also recommends that the Australian Government review the current
rates of compensation.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government
further investigate the establishment of a federal compensation scheme for
proven victims of slavery and people trafficking. The compensation fund
should be funded by persons convicted of these crimes. The Committee also
recommends that the Australian Government review the current rates of