Legal and policy framework
This chapter describes the Commonwealth government's policy
response to human trafficking, and looks specifically at the response of law
enforcement, as well as the government's international engagement. This chapter
concludes by discussing a number of key policy and law reform proposals that
the committee received from submitters and witnesses.
Commonwealth policy response
The Commonwealth government's approach to human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences is led by the Interdepartmental Committee on
Human Trafficking and Slavery (IDC), and set out in its National
Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19 (NAP). The
NAP provides the framework for the government agencies to interact with each
other, civil society organisations, and state and territory agencies with
respect to these offences.
The Interdepartmental Committee on
Human Trafficking and Slavery
The Commonwealth government takes a whole-of-government approach
to human trafficking, overseen by the IDC. The Attorney-General’s Department
(AGD) chairs the IDC, which is comprised of representatives from the Australian
Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Federal Police (AFP),
the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), the Commonwealth Director of
Public Prosecutions (CDPP), the Department of Employment, the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Immigration and Border
Protection (DIBP), the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the
Department of Social Services (DSS), and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).
An Operational Working Group (OWG), established as a subcommittee
of the IDC to 'resolve systemic operational issues that arise in the management
of individual cases', is chaired by the AGD and includes the AFP, CDPP, DIBP
The OWG meets on a six-weekly basis.
The Commonwealth government's
The government's strategy to combat human trafficking and slavery
was established in 2004 and is founded on the following central pillars:
- Prevention and deterrence
- Detection and investigation
- Prosecution and compliance, and
- Victim support and protection.
According to the government, the measures taken under these four
pillars 'address the full cycle of human trafficking and slavery from
recruitment to reintegration and give equal weight to the critical areas of
prevention, enforcement and victim support'.
Since 2003, the government has spent over $150 million on
domestic, regional and international initiatives to prevent and address human
trafficking and slavery, including the establishment of:
the NAP, that 'sets the strategic framework for Australia’s whole‑of‑community
response to human trafficking and slavery'; and
the International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and
Slavery, launched on 23 March 2016, that 'complements the [NAP] and
amplifies [the government's] efforts as a regional leader in preventing and
addressing human trafficking and slavery'.
To assist the government in carrying out such work, the IDC
consults with civil society organisations and unions, including through its
annual National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery (Roundtable), and
the related Senior Officials' Meeting.
The NAP notes that civil society organisations and unions 'play
an important role in assisting trafficked people, and improving public
understanding of trafficking through awareness-raising and education
The role of business and industry is also considered 'vital' in Australia’s
efforts in respect of human trafficking and slavery, particularly in developing
a response to the issue of labour exploitation in supply chains.
Issues relating to slavery and forced labour, including supply chains, will be
explored in more detail in chapter 3.
National Action Plan to Combat
Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19
The objective of the NAP is that 'Australia works to actively
combat all forms of human trafficking and slavery, wherever they occur,
including by addressing the impact on trafficked people'.
There are five principles that underpin the NAP, and 'guide the
work being done to achieve [the government's] objective, goals and action
Principle One: Australia responds to human trafficking
and slavery in a manner that is comprehensive, effective, timely, coordinated
and consistent with our international obligations.
Principle Two: Australia provides holistic and
victim-centred support to trafficked people, regardless of gender, age,
disability, race, ethnicity, immigration status, sex, sexuality or the purpose
for which they were exploited, and affords them access to an effective remedy.
Principle Three: Australia strives to be a regional
leader in deterring and combating human trafficking and slavery, and works
cooperatively with other governments both regionally and internationally
towards this end.
Principle Four: Australia encourages and promotes a
collaborative response that is built on the participation of government, civil
society, business and industry, unions and the community working in partnership
to achieve sustainable change.
Principle Five: Australia maintains a strong
compliance framework which promotes investigations, prosecutions and the
enforcement of civil sanctions, and penalises offenders to the full extent of
The NAP sets out and discusses in some detail seven key areas of
focus for the life of the NAP (2015–19), namely: monitoring the 2013
legislative reforms; awareness-raising and education; forced marriage;
exploitation in supply chains; operational protocol for minors; strengthening
the Commonwealth government's connectedness with states and territories; and
international and regional leadership.
Efficacy of the Commonwealth's policy response
Some submitters and witnesses raised concerns about the
effectiveness of the Commonwealth's approach to responding to human trafficking,
slavery and slavery‑like offences in Australia. Some criticised, in
particular, the lack of coordination and cooperation between IDC members, while
others expressed concern about the lack of funding for the NAP.
Coordination and engagement
The issue of the lack of coordination and cooperation across IDC
agencies and with states and territories with respect to human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences was articulated by Professor Jennifer Burn of
Anti-Slavery Australia (ASA) in her evidence to the committee:
There are gaps in Australia's response [to human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like practices]. One clear gap is that, taking into account
that there are many organisations, many individuals and many governments across
all levels of Australian society engaged in responding to the challenges of
human trafficking in Australia, there is a need for clear coordination and
oversight. We have many programs, but there is a lack of a coordinating body.
That has resulted in inconsistent approaches, duplication of approaches and, in
some cases, missed opportunities, particularly when we are focusing on the
long-term survival and recovery of people who have been trafficked and
Indeed, a number of other submitters raised the issue of the need
for greater communication and coordination between Commonwealth and state
government agencies, and civil society.
For example, in its submission, The Salvation Army—Freedom
Partnership to End Modern Slavery (The Salvation Army) stated that '[t]he role
and effectiveness of commonwealth law enforcement agencies varies across
agencies and functions, including identification and response',
and noted that:
In her 2012 mission to Australia, the [Special Rapporteur on
trafficking in persons, especially women and children (Special Rapporteur)]
made several recommendations for law enforcement agencies across several areas,
including resourcing for the specialist anti-trafficking response; the need to
build capacity of state-based first responders; the extent of Australia’s
reliance on immigration compliance monitoring for victim detection; and limited
collaboration with mental health professionals to help identify and stabilise
The Echo Project also raised the need for greater coordination
and cooperation of frontline services:
We consider that greater targeted responses across
multi-disciplines could be achieved by improving cooperation and awareness.
This would involve both state and territory police and local community networks
There is also a need for greater cooperation between the AFP
and first‑response services, such as healthcare, welfare and legal
personnel, as well as school personnel and members of religious organisations.
Raising awareness about human trafficking and providing these services with a
clear plan of action to follow when they identify a potential victim of human
trafficking will assist with coordinated responses.
Further, in providing evidence to the committee about the
exploitation of migrant workers and the role of government agencies, Dr Mark
Zirnsak, Director, Social Justice, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of
Victoria and Tasmania (UCA), highlighted some inconsistencies between frontline
agencies that may be detrimental to pursuing a prosecution:
The [FWO] has a role of enforcing the [Fair Work Act 2009],
so that is their focus. Our understanding is that, if they did think a
situation was egregious enough to be considered for slavery, it would be
referred to the [AFP]. Our understanding of the [AFP] position is, though, that
it is very hard to prosecute these cases, because often people do not want to
hang around for the length of time it is going to take to prosecute a forced
labour or human trafficking case. So it is difficult to pursue a prosecution
from that point of view. I have some very strong concerns about [the Australian
Border Force (Border Force)]. If I look at their public statements, they
continue to conduct operations where they refer to people as 'illegal migrants'
and 'illegals' who need to be removed, yet, if they have just conducted a raid,
there is no indication of what investigation they have done to determine there
is not actually a forced labour or human-trafficking situation in there and
that these people, despite the fact that they might have breached their visa
conditions, might actually be victims of human trafficking or forced labour.
There appears to be a position on Border Force that says: 'These people just
need to be removed, and we treat the exploiter and the victim of exploitation
as equally breakers of the law.'
The evidence summarised in this section indicates that there is a
lack of coordination and engagement across Commonwealth government agencies
responding to human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences, but also a
lack of coordination and engagement of these agencies with their state and
The evidence also indicates that there could be greater
coordination with non‑government organisations (NGOs) working in this
space, which would benefit victims and potentially lead to increased
prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes.
The committee therefore shares the concerns raised by some
submitters and witnesses that greater coordination and engagement is required
between government agencies at both the federal and federal-state levels.
Greater coordination and engagement would allow for a more
streamlined response to human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.
This would ultimately assist in the identification and subsequent prosecution
of these offences, as well as the protection of victims.
On the basis of this evidence, the committee considers that there
is a need to further strengthen the relationships between IDC member agencies,
as well as the relationship between frontline Commonwealth, state and territory
agencies that respond to human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.
The committee recommends that member agencies of the
Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery strengthen their
coordination and engagement with each other, and that frontline Commonwealth
agencies strengthen existing relationships with state and territory frontline
Implementation of the NAP
The majority of submitters commended the establishment of the
NAP, and the Law Council of Australia (LCA) also commented positively on the
process that led to its development, including engaging with NGOs through the Roundtable.
However, submitters also identified the need for the NAP to be 'adequately
funded'. For example, the LCA stated that:
...it is imperative that the initiatives of the Roundtable,
such as those outlined in the NAP, are adequately funded and Departmental
agencies are adequately resourced to implement the practical measures and
policies required to address human trafficking.
The Salvation Army also noted:
While an important milestone,
the five-year [NAP] is unfunded and it is unclear how it is independently
evaluated for success. It was written by the [AGD] Crimes against the Person
Section, which is largely responsible for implementing and evaluating the Plan.
[IDC] members have respective responsibilities.
Within the current framework, the AGD performs well to meet
its obligations to administer the framework. The AGD’s team is small, but with
huge demands and it should be better resourced.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) commented that 'it
is necessary to incorporate a human rights based approach' with respect to the
implementation of the NAP,
a view echoed by ASA.
Slavery Links Australia Inc (Slavery Links) did not consider that
the response to the NAP by government agencies was adequate. Slavery Links
observed that although the revised NAP now refers to slavery, 'some government
agencies have not begun to implement the 2013 change of language or even some
basic aspects' of the NAP.
The Nordic Model Australian Coalition (NorMAC) was more critical
and did not consider the NAP itself was adequate, stating:
It is NorMAC’s view that the [NAP] fails to recognise the
demand for sexual services as a key cause of the trafficking of women to
Australia. This seems to be an obvious oversight given that the majority of trafficking
in Australia has been for the purposes of sexual slavery/sexual exploitation.
The committee agrees with the concerns raised by some submitters
and witnesses that to be effective in combatting human trafficking, slavery and
slavery-like practices, the NAP must be fully funded and take a human rights
approach to its implementation.
Fully funding the NAP and adopting a human rights approach to its
implementation would mean that the government could achieve each measure set
out in the NAP, corresponding to the four central pillars.
For example, in respect of the 'prevention and deterrence' pillar
of the NAP, if the NAP were fully funded, there could be certainty with respect
to funding by DFAT for initiatives 'which build the capacity of vulnerable
groups to prevent and protect themselves from human trafficking and slavery through
Australia’s aid program'.
Further, in respect of the 'detection and investigation' pillar
of the NAP, the AGD, AFP, DIBP and FWO would have adequate resourcing to
'[m]onitor and refine as appropriate existing tools and guidance used by
frontline officers for the identification of trafficked people'.
Additionally, in respect of the 'prosecution and compliance'
pillar of the NAP, the CDPP, in consultation with state and territory offices
of public prosecutions, could adequately '[e]nsure capacity of State and
Territory Offices of Public Prosecutions to prosecute Commonwealth human
trafficking and slavery offences'.
A final example of a measure that would be implemented if the NAP
were fully funded and a human rights approach taken to its implementation, which
corresponds to the 'victim support and protection' pillar of the NAP, would be
that the AFP, CDPP and DIBP could '[e]nsure trafficked people are not detained,
charged or prosecuted for status-related offences, or held in immigration
The committee does not consider it necessary to amend the NAP, on
the basis it is broad enough to cover all forms of human trafficking, including
trafficking for sexual services.
However, the committee does consider it important that the NAP is funded and that
a human rights-based approach is taken to its implementation, to ensure the
protection of victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery‑like
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government funds
the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19
so that it may be fully implemented, with a human rights-based approach to its implementation.
Law enforcement and human trafficking
As outlined in chapter 1, the legislation relating to human
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences is Commonwealth legislation. As
such, investigation of these matters is the remit of the AFP. However, as
discussed in paragraphs 2.60 – 2.69, state and territory legislation also covers
some of these offences.
The role of federal law enforcement
The AFP has dedicated Human Trafficking Teams in Sydney and
Melbourne, and a National Coordination Team in Canberra.
AFP officers trained in human trafficking investigations are also located in
Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, where they work with state and territory policing
In relation to the Human Trafficking Teams in Sydney and
Melbourne, the AGD told the committee:
There are currently 21 AFP investigators dedicated to human
trafficking investigations. The experience levels range from two years through
to 36 years’ investigative experience. The average experience across the
dedicated members is 14 years’ investigative experience.
In AFP offices where there is no dedicated Human Trafficking
Team, the AFP have the ability to utilise over 70 members within Crime
Operations to assist.
Submitters and witnesses were generally supportive of the AFP's
work in this area.
However, The Salvation Army expressed concerns with the level of resourcing in
the AFP and noted:
While the AFP posts officers with training in human
trafficking in most or all capital cities, these officers must split their time
with other demanding crime types. Cases that occur in regional or remote areas may
require the AFP to send a member of a specialist team to investigate or provide
technical assistance to local authorities; in other cases, state police or
other Commonwealth authorities might respond.
Referrals and prosecutions
According to the Trafficking in Persons: The Australian
Government Response 1 July 2015–30 June 2016 report, in the
period from 2004 to 30 June 2016, the AFP received 691 referrals relating to
human trafficking and slavery‑related offences, and referred these to the
CDPP in those instances where there was sufficient evidence to pursue a
Referrals were received from various sources, including official state,
territory, and Australian government activities; industry representatives or NGOs;
concerned individuals or co-workers of suspected victims; and people working
at, or connected to, various embassies and diplomatic missions located in
According to the same report, in 2015–16, the AFP received 169
new referrals, the majority of which (69) related to forced marriage, 39 to
sexual exploitation, 36 to labour exploitation, and the remainder of which
related to other forms of human trafficking and slavery.
Labour exploitation referrals to date have mostly related to individuals
working as domestic workers, however, such referrals to the AFP have
increasingly related to the hospitality, agriculture and construction industries.
Since 2004, 55 people have been prosecuted for human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences.
However, according to the AGD:
In a number of these cases, charges relating to human
trafficking, slavery or slavery-like offences under the Commonwealth Criminal
Code were withdrawn and the alleged offenders were prosecuted for related
charges, including migration offences.
As a result, since 2004 up to May 2017, '20 people have actually
been convicted of human trafficking and slavery related offences in Australia'.
In 2015–16, the CDPP discontinued the prosecution of three people
who had been charged with trafficking in persons, on the basis that there was
insufficient admissible evidence for there to be a reasonable prospect of
conviction for those charges.
However, the CDPP also successfully prosecuted the second conviction for an
offence of trafficking in children (which was the first trafficking in children
offence prosecuted by the CDPP).
The low number of prosecutions with respect to human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences was a source of concern for a number of
submitters and witnesses. For example, in respect of sex trafficking, Mr Alan
Murnane, General Manager, Inner South Community Health Service Ltd (ISCH),
We do not see many prosecutions. When we look at the federal
data, we do not see prosecutions. That is an area that maybe needs to be
researched more [so that] we actually know what the level of trafficking is within
Also speaking on the topic of sex trafficking, Dr Caroline Norma
of Collective Shout opined that the incidence of sex trafficking is higher than
indicated by the current levels of prosecutions, which are impeded by the
existing visa regime, as:
...victims who have student visas or working holiday visas are
automatically seen as legitimate in terms of having legitimately entered the
industry as migrants in some way. It establishes a mythical kind of
construction for them so that their victimhood cannot be seen. I think having
visa holders in the industry is fundamentally a problem. As I have said, the
strong notions of migrant sex work in Australia block a lot of recognition of
sex-trafficking victims, both inside and outside the courts. Resourcing of the
AFP, the lead agency in relation to the trafficking act, makes it difficult.
The UCA suggested that a lack of resourcing impeded prosecutions by
the FWO with respect to the exploitation of migrant workers:
You will notice, if you look at their annual report, that the
[FWO] do 50 prosecutions a year...I am going to suggest to you that that is the
scale of resources that they can afford to allocate to prosecutions. I think
that law enforcement agencies are going to find that the scale of the problem
is always going to outmatch their prosecution and investigative resources.
Deterring the behaviour in the first place is better. Prosecution does help to
deter—it is a general deterrence measure—but other measures, such as empowering
people, may deter the behaviour as well.
The Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)
also discussed the issue of migrant workers, and the barriers faced with
respect to law enforcement pursuing these cases. ACRATH was concerned about the
availability of information for migrant workers about their legal rights:
There are numbers of people being found. Just taking the
blueberry pickers, there have been a whole lot of blueberry pickers found by
Border Force or the [AFP] while in uniform. The pickers are frightened. They do
not speak English. They are told that they have a chance to report that they
have been trafficked, but they are frightened. Some of them have been what
Immigration wants to call repatriated but are deported the very next day. So we
are saying: 'Open that gate. Let the people into the support program. Get the
Red Cross to talk to them and say, "These are your rights."' In fact,
a senior Immigration official said, 'Yes, of course people have a right to a lawyer
and legal advice; we hand them the phone book.' I asked, 'How does somebody who
does not speak English have any idea of how to access an appropriate lawyer in
that phone book?' They said, 'We can't recommend a lawyer because that would be
contravening some sort of competition policy.' I said, 'Some things are silly,
and that is just silly.' They said, 'Yes, we get that.'
In contrast, ASA stated that the number of prosecutions in
Australia is 'not that low' when compared with other countries, but did
identify potential barriers to prosecutions:
It is a complex process, to investigate and prosecute crimes
of human trafficking and slavery. There can be enormous barriers. And some of
those barriers are tied up with the barriers that exist at the very beginning
of a process, where exploited people are unaware of the supports that are
available to them and are unsure about what their life might look like if they
do engage with a law-enforcement process. But just looking at the number of
prosecutions, I think it may have gone up to 19 now since 2004.
There has been a steady increase in prosecutions, including,
quite recently, Australia's first prosecution and conviction, in relation to
the crime of servitude...
I think it is important to remember that a lot of our
offences are still quite new. The forced labour offence was just introduced in
2013. There is more to be done around awareness in the community,
distinguishing between breach of labour standards and crime, and informing
people across a range of industries about these offences, but it is still new.
I think the question is how to measure [the effectiveness of prosecutions].
The AGD acknowledged difficulties both with identifying all cases
involving human trafficking and slavery, as well as barriers to prosecutions.
The committee heard that '[w]ithout manually reviewing each relevant
prosecution to determine whether human trafficking and slavery-related conduct
was involved, the [CDPP] is unable to provide an exact breakdown'
of all cases involving human trafficking and slavery‑related cases where
specific charges of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices were
The AGD discussed barriers to prosecution, largely related to
people's unwillingness to or anxiety about coming forward and also articulated
the following procedural barriers to prosecution:
The investigation of matters involving human trafficking and
slavery can be protracted, complex and resource intensive, particularly given
their often transnational nature. There are significant practical challenges in
investigating crime across international borders, including the challenges of
communication, and differences in the role of national institutions, legal and
political systems. Victims, offenders and evidence can be located in more than
one country, and the same set of circumstances can generate investigations and prosecutions
in more than one jurisdiction.
The AGD also informed the committee that work was underway to
address these barriers:
...the issue of human trafficking is that there have, of
course, been many barriers to people actually coming forward. It has been hard
for victims to be able to work out how they actually come forward. They are,
obviously, vulnerable people, which is why we have tried to have this integrated
approach, such as the work that our colleagues in DSS do, to make sure that
there is a good support package for people and incentives for people to come
I think this issue of the intersection between human
trafficking and labour exploitation goes to the chair's question as well as
yours, Senator Singh. The fact that we know that this is a tricky area is why
Taskforce Cadena has been set up so we have got Immigration working really
closely with Border Force and the Fair Work Ombudsman. There is also the
Migrant Workers' Taskforce, which Allan Fels is chairing at the moment, to look
broadly at those issues around vulnerable migrant workers. There is also a
labour exploitation working group that Fiona McLeod, the current president of
the Law Council, is working on. So they are very live issues about us continuing
to look at these policy settings to see what more we can do.
With specific reference to forced marriage, the AGD and AFP
explained that the absence of mutual assistance legislation and universal
jurisdiction for forced marriage offences were a hindrance to prosecuting cases
in which an Australian citizen was forced into a marriage overseas.
The committee was also informed by the LCA that a lack of
awareness amongst state and territory police could lead to the prosecution of
an offence for a lesser state or territory crime, and for this reason, training
of these officers on indicators of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like
offences was important:
...local police might respond to a situation thinking, for
example, it is a domestic violence case and then come and realise that there
was something fishy in terms of the person's capacity to leave or negotiate
leaving, or their language skills or their financial wherewithal. Once they are
aware of those indicators, hopefully, if the system is working properly, they
will refer it either to Border Force or the AFP.
The committee was informed that, to overcome such issues, at
times the AFP 'will work collaboratively with our state law enforcement
partners to explore opportunities to prosecute against state offences' in
instances where 'there is nothing that we can do at the Commonwealth level'.
Furthermore, the AFP may look to other Commonwealth offences, 'particularly in
the financial sector, where there may be opportunities for us to prefer charges
throughout the Criminal Code'.
In the context of barriers to prosecution, DIBP explained the
Human Trafficking Visa Framework and support offered to victims and alleged
victims assisting in an investigation:
...the Human Trafficking Visa Framework...provides mechanisms so
that victims or alleged victims of human trafficking can be supported through
an initial period of rest and recovery. That can go for up to 90 days. Beyond
that, through that trafficking framework, when a victim or alleged victim is
providing support through an investigation they can continue to be supported
through both a visa framework and other support that colleagues from [DSS]
provide, through to permanent visa outcomes for some victims.
Since 2004, DIBP has:
...granted 272 bridging visa Fs, 211 criminal justice stay
visas and 132 permanent visas. There was reference at the beginning to some
changes made to the framework in 2015. Those changes have simplified the
process, so that for victims or alleged victims who move from a bridging visa
F, if they progress to a permanent visa it will be a referred stay visa that is
granted. To give you figures for this year so far, the department has granted
12 bridging visa Fs and eight referred stay (permanent) visas—that is from 1
July 2016...The trigger point is where AFP, through the [AGD], provide notice that
somebody has assisted with an investigation. That is a trigger point for somebody
to progress, and then we will do standard visa processing and make assessments
around the other criteria for the permanent visa.
However, some submitters and witnesses suggested that the
existing mechanisms to encourage cooperation with law enforcement agencies were
and that more could be done to encourage further cooperation, such as:
13.1. Facilitating temporary visas for victims’ immediate
family members who are in danger. Such family members should have access to the
STPP and, where eligible, the opportunity to apply for permanency.
13.2. Building accountability and reducing periods in
temporary status by setting clear, transparent time-limited triggers that
progress a victim towards safety and permanency. For example, victims should be
referred for permanent visa within six months of being identified as a victim.
13.3. Establishing a self-petitioning process within the
migration system, like that of Belgium, Italy, and the U.S., where
participation rates in criminal justice process are high.
13.4. Establishing an independent review process for negative
decisions regarding access to the [Support for Trafficked People Program
(STPP)] and Referred Stay visa.
13.5. Providing guaranteed access to trusted, independent
legal advice through resourcing legal aid programs across the country.
The adequacy and extent of training for police and other
frontline government officers in relation to human trafficking and
slavery-related offences was the subject of discussion during the course of the
In response to questions on notice, the AGD provided the
following information about the number of law enforcement officers who have
completed the AFP’s human trafficking training programme:
The AFP Human Trafficking Investigations Course (HTIC) was
first delivered in 2004. Since that time, 127 members of the AFP, state and
territory police and members from the Department of Immigration and Border
Protection have completed the training. A further 18 participants will take
part in the HTIC in June 2017 with an additional two HTIC scheduled for the
2017/18 financial year.
However, The Salvation Army identified 'several problems' with
Goal One of Pillar One of the NAP, which requires that 'frontline officers are
trained and equipped to detect and respond to human trafficking and slavery':
- The training of frontline professionals is concentrated on
federal agencies, with the exception of marriage celebrants;
- Only two representatives from state policing agencies
attended the training in 2015 and no information is provided about the numbers
of trainees in DIBP and FWO trainings;
- There are no specific targets for numbers and type of
officers to be trained by any of the agencies;
- There is no information on the evaluation of the training
demonstrating an improvement in knowledge and capability as a result of
completing the training;
- There are no indicators to associate the training to
specific outcomes, such as an increase in identification and referral of
potential cases, thus the status report simply states the trainings occurred.
Similarly, ASA suggested that more training would result in more
cases of exploitation being identified:
The task for us is to make sure that all levels of government
and that all frontline government officers are aware of the indicators of
forced labour and human trafficking. I do not believe that they are aware, yet;
there is work being done around training, but more needs to be done.
The AFP informed the committee that it had begun to work with
state and territory officers on specialist training:
One of the things that the AFP have been doing in particular
is developing some specialised training for our state law-enforcement
colleagues. Part of that specialised training is about what indicators to look
for when they are responding to community policing-type incidents. As an
example, the greater awareness that they hold in terms of what indicators to be
looking for then means there will be earlier interdiction, greater awareness
and more likelihood that people might come forward and trust that there will be
an appropriate response.
Further, it was noted that the AFP:
...have specialised training now so that it is not just solely
reliant on those members in the dedicated teams but all AFP investigators on
how to identify and investigate human-trafficking related offences. We are
investing heavily in that training. We have just recently undertaken the last
human-trafficking investigation course. That is a collaborative course with
state and territory jurisdictions in addition to us. That was only a matter of
weeks ago. We are also looking to expand that in terms of interviewing
vulnerable witnesses and people. We are trying to expand the number of people
across our investigative cohort who can deal better with vulnerable people.
The role of state and territory law
The NAP identifies a range of state and territory
responsibilities that intersect with the strategy to combat human trafficking
and slavery, including child protection; workers’ compensation, and
occupational health and safety; regulation of the sex work industry;
enforcement of state and territory legislation on sexual servitude; and victims
of crime financial assistance schemes.
The AGD explained the responsibilities of states and territories
in respect of human trafficking as follows:
State and territory governments are responsible for
regulating the sex work industry in Australia. Most jurisdictions have enacted
legislation relating to sexual servitude and deceptive recruiting which would
allow for the prosecution of cases involving sexual exploitation. However, in
practice, state and territory police services generally refer human trafficking
and slavery-related matters to the AFP. All jurisdictions have a range of
offence provisions to cover related crimes such as assault, sexual assault,
forced prostitution, kidnapping and deprivation of liberty.
The AGD also noted that state offences may be used in conjunction
with Commonwealth offences to prosecute human trafficking and slavery-related
The Commonwealth government's commitment under the NAP to increase
cooperation between Commonwealth, state and territory governments and between
government agencies, is intended to 'ensure a joined-up and holistic response to human trafficking and slavery
including in prevention, victim identification, referral and support, and both
civil and criminal investigations, prosecutions and compliance'.
On 4 May 2011, the AFP, together with state and territory police,
endorsed the Australian Policing Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
This agreement set out these stakeholders' commitment to ensuring that
Australia’s anti-trafficking strategy remains relevant and responsive to
emerging trends and issues and outlined a number of obligations for the AFP as
well as state and territory police forces.
Following feedback received from stakeholders that 'interagency
arrangements may now be better served by a business-as-usual protocol', the AFP
has drafted a new agreement, the National Policing Protocol to Combat Human
Trafficking, Slavery and Slavery-like Practices.
The NAP states that once endorsed by states and territories, the new agreement will
provide the national framework for Australian police agencies to combat human
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices in the future.
Cooperation between the AFP and state
and territory police
On 9 November 2016, the Legislative Council Select Committee on
human trafficking in New South Wales (NSW) was established to inquire into and
report on human trafficking in that state.
Some of the evidence heard by the NSW committee serves as an example of
cooperation between the AFP and state police forces on human trafficking and
slavery-related matters. For example, the NSW committee heard from a
representative of the NSW Police Force, who provided the following explanation
of work and training undertaken with the AFP:
Basically we provide officers who attend the AFP human
trafficking course. We have quarterly meetings, formal meetings with the AFP,
and discuss exchange of information. However, we have ad hoc information
exchange between both our agencies in regard to any new information that comes
to light, so we do not wait until the quarterly meetings to actually deal with
the information. We also have the AFP embedded with us in regard to our child
exploitation side of things. In regard to that side of things we speak to them
almost on a daily basis and we do join operations with the AFP in regard to
child exploitation investigations.
Detective Superintendent Howlett also explained how the AFP and
NSW Police determine whether a matter under investigation falls under state or Commonwealth
We usually do a combined operation with the AFP if that is
the case and we will attend the premises and speak to the victim if they wish
to report to the police or we would try and pull them aside and actually speak
to them and find out the circumstances of them coming into Australia and then,
depending on the information they tell us, whether Commonwealth offences have
been committed that fall under the jurisdiction of the AFP or whether State
offences have taken place.
As indicated by the AGD, it was also noted that the majority of
work done by the NSW Police Sex Crimes Squad relates to sexual offences against
victims in NSW, rather than other forms of human trafficking, slavery and
As discussed above, further efforts are being made by the AFP to
train their state and territory counterparts in identifying potential human
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences. Further, the AGD noted that
'[a]s state and territory police may identify human trafficking and slavery
matters before the AFP, and investigations may overlap, the AFP collaborates
closely with state and territory police'.
The committee is concerned by the apparently low number of prosecutions
for human trafficking, slavery and slavery-related offences; however, the
committee is also aware—on the basis of evidence given by the AGD and AFP—that
it can be difficult to pursue such offences or to clearly identify all relevant
cases as alternative offences may be pursued.
While acknowledging these difficulties, the absence of clear
information about the number of cases involving human trafficking, slavery and
slavery-like offences makes it difficult to accurately comprehend the size of
the problem and assess the adequacy of the Commonwealth's response to it.
Improving the quality of this information is not something the committee
explored in depth during the course of the inquiry, and the committee
appreciates the resources required to so; however, the committee suggests that
the AGD, AFP and CDPP may wish to consider whether it is possible to improve the
collection of this data.
The committee is pleased by the AGD's evidence that barriers to
prosecutions for human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences are under
active consideration and the subject of various pieces of work by the
Commonwealth. The committee supports this work and urges the Commonwealth
government to consider what else might be done to improve prosecution rates for
human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.
The committee is of the view that it is vitally important to
ensure that police officers are provided with specialist training in human
trafficking, slavery and slavery‑like offences, and that officers with
this expertise are located across Australia. The committee is therefore
supportive of more AFP officers receiving specialised training in human
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences and being based outside Sydney
The committee also acknowledges the evidence presented that
illustrates the need for frontline officers in a variety of Commonwealth and
state and territory agencies to be aware of the suite of offences at Divisions
270 and 271 of the Criminal Code. It is these officers who are, in many
instances, most likely to encounter and best placed to identify suspected
victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences, and refer
those people to the relevant authority and support as appropriate.
The committee therefore recommends that the Commonwealth expands
existing training for AFP, DIBP and FWO officers to ensure they are
appropriately trained to identify suspected victims of human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences, and refer those people to the relevant
authority and support. Given state and territory police often have contact with
suspected victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences
before the AFP, the committee believes it is also important that training on the
suite of offences at Divisions 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code continues to be
offered to state and territory police officers.
As discussed at paragraphs 2.8–2.10, some submitters and
witnesses stated that suspected victims and victims of human trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences should be provided with adequate information
about NGOs working in this sector, so that victims can be provided with
appropriate support and assistance. The committee agrees and recommends that
training on human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences for police and
other governmental officers includes information on the work of relevant NGOs
to which suspected victims and victims can be referred.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government
increases the number of Australian Federal Police officers with specialised
human trafficking and anti-slavery training in all states and territories.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government:
expands training for frontline staff employed by the Australian
Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the
Fair Work Ombudsman with respect to the Commonwealth offences at Divisions 270
and 271 of the Criminal Code Act 1995;
works with its state and territory counterparts to ensure that
state and territory police also receive adequate training with respect to the
Commonwealth offences at Divisions 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code Act 1995;
ensures that this training includes reference to non-government
organisations working on human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices
so that they can refer victims for support and assistance offered through non-government
On 23 March 2016, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie
Bishop MP, launched Australia’s International Strategy to Combat Human
Trafficking and Slavery. The strategy provides that 'Australia’s international
engagement to combat human trafficking and slavery is substantial and varied'
and identifies three steps to 'better realise the vision of Australia as a
regional leader in combating human trafficking and slavery':
- setting strategic priorities for our engagement;
- enhancing our leadership and coordination; and
- enhancing our advocacy, to promote regional and
international cooperation in response to human trafficking and slavery.
The strategy outlines that the principal focus of Australia's
bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement on human trafficking and
slavery will be in Southeast Asia.
Regionally, the strategy discusses the work of the Bali Process
on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime
(Bali Process) and the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons
(AATIP). Through the Bali Process, which Australia chairs jointly with
Indonesia, regional policy guides have been developed that provide 'practical
tips for policymakers on how to effectively criminalise people smuggling and
human trafficking, and how to identify and protect victims'.
In respect of the AATIP, the strategy provides that '[t]his assistance has been
instrumental in shaping the recently-signed ASEAN Convention Against
Trafficking In Persons'.
The strategy also outlines that multilateral engagement includes:
partnering with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support
the Indonesian Government’s efforts to prosecute human trafficking and related
supporting work by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to prevent the
exploitation of migrant workers within and from the region;
and providing US$3 million over three years to the ILO's Better Work
Programme to address issues associated with exploitation in supply chains.
However, a number of submitters suggested that there is room for
improvement with respect to Australia's international engagement to combat
human trafficking. For example, ACRATH stated:
It is essential that a holistic approach be taken to combat
trafficking in persons that addresses these underlying factors, and this
includes setting considerable foreign aid targets. Australian aid can assist
and help improve education for girls, healthcare and access to basic services,
and in turn reduce the number of young women and men vulnerable to trafficking.
Australia's Overseas Development Assistance is also vital for the continuation
of counter human trafficking initiatives and projects of ACRATH’s partner organisations,
particularly throughout the Asia Pacific region.
The LCA recommended continued and increased support for aid and
other programs in the Asia Pacific, including the ILO's GMS TRIANGLE Project, AATIP
and the Bali Process.
It was submitted that Australia's ongoing leadership role globally and
regionally 'can only be sustained by continued and increased support for aid
and other programs that combat human trafficking, particularly in the Asia
Ms Randle, Director, Corporate and Legal, International Justice
Mission Australia, also considered there could be further expansion of the work
of the Bali Process, noting that '[i]ncluding cybersex trafficking on the
agenda for the Bali Process, whereby international cooperation is further resourced,
would be very effective'.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime held a similar view,
suggesting that Australia could play a greater role regionally:
Australia could act as a champion for improving data on
trafficking, and the collection and sharing of it in the region...We think
Australia should continue to support [anti-trafficking] development work,
including through APTIC [an anti-trafficking program run by the AFP], and
should potentially look at supporting interventions that target policy level
and high-level institutional change through multilateral organisations in
support of the UN convention.
With regards to the government's international engagement, the AGD
We also cemented our position as a regional leader on human trafficking
and slavery through our international work, and that has been brought together
in an international strategy to combat human trafficking that was released last
We also take a leading role in work through the [Bali
Process]. The Australian government plays quite a role there, including
co-chairing the Bali Process. Through the Bali Process, Australia has been at
the forefront of developing a range of Bali Process policy guides on human
trafficking, which people are finding quite useful, and a fourth one of those
Bali Process guides is being worked on, to focus on following the money in
human trafficking cases.
The committee acknowledges the significant role that Australia
plays in combatting human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices in
the region, including as a co-chair of the Bali Process.
However, a number of submitters and witnesses have suggested that
Australia could play a bigger role to combat these offences, specifically by
providing additional and more secure funding to organisations working in the
The committee acknowledges that providing further financial
assistance to such organisations will positively contribute to combatting human
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices in the region, and will also
reduce the prevalence of these practices in Australia. Further, in order for
these organisations to effectively continue their work, they must be provided
with financial security.
The committee therefore considers that AATIP and the ILO's projects
on migrant workers in ASEAN member states should continue to be funded by the
government, in order to combat these offences. Further, the committee recognises
the importance of continuous funding to ensure financial stability for NGOs
that partner with government to undertake this work in the region.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government commits
to continuous funding of overseas anti-trafficking programs, including AATIP
and the work undertaken by the International Labour Organization with respect
to migrant workers in the ASEAN member states.
Further proposals for policy and law reform
The committee received a number of recommendations in respect of
practical measures and policies that would address human trafficking. Many
submitters and witnesses made the same or substantially similar
The following sections therefore address four recommendations
that were addressed by a range of submitters and witnesses with respect to
further proposals for policy and law reform: a modern slavery act; changes to
the STPP; the establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims of
human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences; and the establishment of
an anti-slavery and trafficking commissioner.
Modern Slavery Act
The committee received a number of submissions that raised and
supported the adoption of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, similar to the United
Kingdom (UK) Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Some witnesses also gave evidence in support of this proposal.
No submitters or witnesses explicitly opposed such a development.
The committee notes that the Parliamentary Joint Standing
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is currently examining whether
Australia should adopt a Modern Slavery Act comparable to that in the UK.
As such, this committee has not explored this issue. The committee supports the
inquiry being conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Defence and Trade, and looks forward to its recommendations.
Support for Trafficked People
The Commonwealth government's STPP is administered by the DSS, which
has engaged the Australian Red Cross to provide support services to certain
victims of human trafficking and slavery offences.
Services offered through the program include allocating an individual case
manager to each client referred to the program, and may also include other
services such as accommodation, counselling and referral to legal and migration
Eligibility for the STPP is determined by the AFP, and requires
that a person is, or may have been the victim of a human trafficking or
slavery-related offence, and is an Australian citizen or holds a valid visa.
The AGD provided the following figures relating to referrals to the program in
its submission made on behalf of the IDC:
Between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2015, the AFP referred
293 suspected trafficked people to the Support Program. Of these referrals, 188
people (0 m/188 f) were exploited in the sex work industry, and 105 (37 m/68 f)
were subject to exploitation outside the sex work industry. Of the 105, 16 (1
m/15 f) were identified as being in, or at risk of, forced marriage.
The committee heard from a number of submitters and witnesses
that access to the program should not be contingent upon victims assisting the
AFP with a criminal investigation.
For example, ASA identified that:
When the former Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons
visited Australia in 2011, she expressed concern that, “all ongoing support
services are dependent on a contribution to criminal justice process or
In its submission to the committee, ACRATH advocated for:
...a flexible entry pilot project with referrals by certified
agencies, including DIBP, the Red Cross, and a few registered NGOs. Since 2006
ACRATH & other NGOs have been asking for a flexible entry to the Support
for Trafficked People Program for all trafficked people, but this year we are asking
for flexible entry only for those facing a forced marriage.
A similar suggestion was put forth by ASA,
as well a recommendation for extension of the initial 45-day period of
reflection and recovery to 90 days, regardless of whether a victim is willing to
assist the AFP in its investigation.
Submitters and witnesses also emphasised the importance of victims
establishing relationships based on trust with officials, the absence of which
could inhibit a victim's willingness to engage in the criminal process.
Dr Zirnsak stated:
...when exploitation has been detected in Australia it often
takes quite a bit of time to build up a relationship of trust, where the person
will actually reveal what is really happening and the kinds of threats they
might be under and the actual exploitation that is taking place.
The Salvation Army identified a number of ways in which to create
incentives and reduce barriers to cooperating with criminal justice authorities,
Facilitating temporary visas for victims’ immediate family
members who are in danger. Such family members should have access to the STPP
and, where eligible, the opportunity to apply for permanency.
Similarly, ASA stated:
I would like to see a system developed where a survivor of
human trafficking and slavery who is assisting in a law enforcement process is
able to bring their family here...We believe that family contact would go a long
way towards ensuring that they are more established in the community, that
their wellbeing is more assured and that they can, therefore, work and continue
to work with law enforcement authorities from a safe place where they are more
Scarlet Alliance also recommended that 'support for sex workers
who have experienced labour exploitation or trafficking must not be contingent
on the participation of that person in a trafficking investigation and
Scarlet Alliance argued that '[m]aking support conditional upon assisting
police limits the willingness and ability of exploited people to access support
and justice, undermines the effectiveness of trafficking prevention policies,
and compromises trafficking cases'.
Similar recommendations were also made with respect to victims of
a slavery-like offence discussed in chapter 5.
The committee acknowledges the significant support that victims
of trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences receive through the STPP.
However, evidence to the committee illustrates the various
barriers faced by victims—including separation from their families at a time
when they are particularly vulnerable, or concern for their families who remain
in their home country—which may prevent them from engaging with law enforcement
agencies. The committee notes that these vulnerable people are consequently
precluded from receiving ongoing assistance through the STPP, and may
subsequently be placed in a position of increased vulnerability.
The committee therefore considers that access to the STPP should
not be contingent upon victims' cooperation with law enforcement. Further, the
committee considers that family reunification is important not only for
victims, but also for the protection of the victims' families.
The committee recommends the Commonwealth government de-links
access to the Support for Trafficked People Program from compliance with
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government
facilitates and expedites family reunification for victims of trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences.
National Compensation Scheme
A number of submitters and witnesses advocated for the
establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims of trafficking,
slavery and slavery-like offences.
A joint report by the ASA and LCA advocating for this mechanism was provided to
the committee, and argued that such a scheme could be funded by proceeds of
crime (PoC) or through the establishment of a specific fund.
The LCA told the committee that this proposal has been under
consideration at the Roundtable for a number of years, and has received support
from the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and
the Special Rapporteur.
Further, ASA informed the committee that, after liaising with states
and territories on this issue, 'the majority of the states saw that there could
be some benefit in having a national compensation scheme'.
In her evidence to the committee, Ms Fiona McLeod SC, President, LCA
outlined the inadequacy of existing state and territory victims of crime
compensation schemes for these offences:
The key concerns about those schemes are: they have different
thresholds; they have different caps for payments—so, for example, if you were
trafficked into Sydney you would receive less than if you were trafficked into
Queensland for exactly the same offence—you have a limitation in terms of if
there is a series of assaults or a false imprisonment, the sorts of events that
often go with trafficking, you can only claim for the one act because it is
treated as a course of conduct...
ASA told the committee that without a national compensation
scheme for these victims, 'we are not honouring our international law responses
and we are not honouring the specific expressions that we have stated within
our national action plan—to provide support and redress at an appropriate level
for trafficked and enslaved people'.
ASA also informed the committee about developments in other
...very recently in Ottawa, Canada, a bill was presented to
parliament that I think we could learn from. That bill sets out a statutory
course of action specifically for victims of human trafficking and slavery. If
that bill is passed, that would allow a victim to be able to prove, on the
balance of probabilities, that they have been trafficked or enslaved.
Currently, to take a civil action they need to prove that they meet one of the
other elements of tortious conduct, such as that they have been falsely
imprisoned or they have suffered assault. But, by recognising human trafficking
and slavery as a specific cause of action, a plaintiff victim would prove that
the defendant has trafficked them, and the test would be on the balance of
In response to questioning on this issue, the AGD advised that 'it
is an issue that is on our radar but, at the moment, in terms of an answer to
your question, court‑ordered reparation orders are available in addition
to the state and territory [victims of crime compensation schemes]'.
The committee notes the significant work undertaken by NGOs over
a number of years in investigating the merits of establishing a national
compensation scheme for victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like
The committee recognises the significant variation across states
and territory victims of crime compensation schemes with respect to time limits,
categories of harm and levels of award.
The committee acknowledges, for example, that victims could receive an amount
of compensation as little as $10,000 in one jurisdiction, but as much as $100,000
in another for a substantially similar state or territory offence.
The committee considers that it is fundamentally unfair for victims of the same
Commonwealth offence to receive such substantially different awards of
compensation based on their location.
Further, the committee recognises that although crimes against
the person have historically fallen within the jurisdiction of states and
territories, the introduction of crimes against the person offences in respect
of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences into the Criminal Code
has not yet led to the establishment of compensation corresponding to these
Based on the evidence presented to it, the committee considers a
national compensation scheme for victims of trafficking, slavery and
slavery-like offences should be established, funded by PoC.
The committee recommends the establishment of a national
compensation scheme for victims of trafficking, slavery and slavery-like
offences to be funded by proceeds of crime.
The committee is also aware that, pursuant to section 21B of the
...the court may, in addition to the penalty, if any, imposed
upon the person, order the offender:
(c) to make reparation to the
Commonwealth or to a public authority under the Commonwealth, by way of money
payment or otherwise, in respect of any loss suffered, or any expense incurred,
by the Commonwealth or the authority, as the case may be, by reason of the
(d) to make reparation to any
person, by way of money payment or otherwise, in respect of any loss suffered,
or any expense incurred, by the person by reason of the offence.
The committee acknowledges that this mechanism is difficult for
victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices to access, as
it requires successful prosecution of an offence. As the ASA and LCA note in
their Report on Establishing a National Compensation Scheme for Victims of
Commonwealth Crime, there have been low numbers of convictions for human
The LCA and ASA are unaware of any case where an application
for reparation orders under section 21B of the Crimes Act has been sought in
the context of proceedings relating to human trafficking. This demonstrates
that reparation orders are an unlikely remedy for trafficked people under the
The procedures relating to reparation applications and
adjudication of applications also lacks clarity, particularly with respect to
the manner in which applications should be made.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that any orders will be
made – reparation orders are discretionary and dependent on the financial
capacity of the offender to make reparations.
The ASA and LCA do note that in the UK, 'reparation orders
complement the national compensation scheme' as:
A trafficked person can receive a reparation order under the Modern Slavery
Act 2015 (UK), or compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation
Scheme (CICS). A person cannot receive both a reparation order and a
compensation order for the same offence. The UK approach recognises that
although reparation orders are not suitable as the only remedy for survivors of
trafficking, they remain a useful avenue in situations where the defendant has
been identified, convicted, and has sufficient assets to be able to pay for the
The committee therefore considers that there is scope to make the
existing reparation scheme under the Crimes Act more accessible to victims of
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences, and encourages the government
to consider how the existing scheme may be amended.
The committee also encourages the Joint Standing Committee on
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to consider this issue in more detail in its
inquiry into a Modern Slavery Act.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government
considers ways in which to make the existing reparation orders available under
section 21B of the Crimes Act 1914 more accessible to victims of
trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.
Anti-Slavery and Trafficking
A number of submitters and witnesses recommended the
establishment of an anti-slavery and trafficking commissioner.
For example, Slavery Links stated:
I think some organisation, perhaps a slavery commissioner—who
could be located either in the Human Rights Commission or in the [Australian
Crime Commission]—would be a very useful reform to collect data on how many
slaves are here and should be subject to the full force of a very serious
penalty under the [Criminal Code].
In its submission, ASA identified that a key challenge to the successful
implementation of Australia's strategy to combat human trafficking is the
'multiplicity of stakeholders' in this space.
It was submitted that the appointment of an independent anti-slavery and
trafficking commissioner, with responsibility to monitor and review the
effectiveness of commonwealth law enforcement responses and identify any areas
for improvement, would strengthen the existing framework.
The particular benefits of such an officer, outlined by ASA in
its submission, included that:
...a Commissioner could identify any duplication of efforts
across Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, identify gaps in the
effectiveness of the Commonwealth response, including law enforcement responses
and make recommendations to ensure that the Australian response is best
Many submitters who supported the establishment of a commissioner
suggested Australia look to the UK model.
Speaking to the committee about the differences between the role of the UK
commissioner and a proposed Australian commissioner, ASA stated:
One of the key differences between what I would like to see
in Australia compared with the UK is that in Australia I would like our [ombudsman/commissioner]
to have the power to take inquiries and complaints related to specific cases,
rather than solely monitor the [NAP] and assess the effectiveness of
legislation and so on but also be a place where we can take issues of concern
around the implementation of the legislative response.
The ASA suggested that an Australian commissioner could have the
following core functions:
- monitoring the implementation of the [NAP] and ensuring
compliance with human rights obligations;
- an appointment to the membership of the IDC, the [OWG],
the [Roundtable] and other working groups set up under these bodies;
- reporting annually to the Australian Parliament on the
exercise of the Commissioner’s functions, which are made publicly available;
- providing recommendations, advice and guidance to
government agencies on the exercise of their relevant functions;
- assessing the effectiveness of relevant Commonwealth
legislation and policies as well as the impact of any proposed relevant
Commonwealth legislation and policies;
- possessing statutory powers to collect and request data
and information on human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices; and
- consulting and engaging with government agencies,
non-governmental bodies, business and industry, unions and other persons.
Indeed, with reference to the ASA's recommended function (f), the
LCA similarly identified the importance of undertaking or funding 'publically
[sic] available primary research into the extent to which organised criminal
groups are involved in human trafficking crimes in Australia...as a matter of priority'.
Further, in evidence to the committee, the LCA stated that
oversight or regulation of labour hire companies with respect to labour
exploitation—discussed further in chapter 3—could be within the remit of an
anti‑slavery and trafficking commissioner.
Whilst supporting the establishment of an independent anti-slavery
and trafficking commissioner in Australia, the UCA opined:
...I do not think it is going to be resourced at a level that
can cope with the size of the number of people coming in on temporary work
visas to provide that point of contact.
On the question of an Australian anti-slavery and trafficking
commissioner, the AGD noted that:
It is a matter for the government as to what they would want
to do, but in terms of what we do at the moment, we are quite well set up in
the way we are coordinating whole-of-government efforts. We are linking in with
civil society through our national roundtable, as many civil society
organisations are part of that. The government gives grants to civil society
organisations, and all of that is happening under the current, I would say,
very well coordinated set of activities we are doing.
In response to whether such a commissioner would be necessary in
Australia, it was also noted by the AGD that:
Government has a combination of measures—our [DFAT]
colleague, Andrew Goledzinowski, is Australia's Ambassador for People Smuggling
and Human Trafficking and, in terms of the [AGD], we play the role of chairing
this IDC that brings together all of the whole-of-government partners.
We have strong criminal offences, we can do reparation
orders, there is already a range of things that the anti-slavery commissioner
is involved in and many functions that we already can, and do, do here.
The Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking,
formerly the Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, assumed the responsibility
for human trafficking issues in March 2016.
Although the Ambassador had previously worked to 'advance a strong anti-human
trafficking agenda, including as Co-chair of the Bali Process', this change in
...reflects Australia’s ongoing commitment to combating human
trafficking and slavery as a transnational crime, an irregular migration issue,
and a domestic human rights concern where trafficking occurs within country
The committee considers there may be merits in establishing an
anti-slavery and trafficking commissioner, independent from government. The
committee notes that such an office could be responsible for collecting data,
currently lacking, on the prevalence of human trafficking, slavery and
slavery-like practices in Australia.
The committee also considers that there would be merit in the
commissioner performing those functions set out by ASA that do not appear to be
adequately addressed by any government agency, such as monitoring the
implementation of the NAP; providing recommendations, advice and guidance to
government agencies on the exercise of their functions; and overseeing the
effectiveness of Commonwealth legislation and policies intended to reduce the
prevalence of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices and respond
to corresponding offences.
The committee therefore suggests that the Commonwealth government
considers appointing an Anti-Slavery and Trafficking Commissioner in Australia,
taking into account the role and work of the Australian Ambassador for People
Smuggling and Human Trafficking.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth government considers
appointing an Anti-Slavery and Trafficking Commissioner, to:
monitor the implementation of the National Action Plan to
Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19;
provide recommendations, advice and guidance to government
agencies on the exercise of their functions;
oversee the effectiveness of Commonwealth legislation and
policies intended to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking, slavery and
slavery-like practices and respond to corresponding offences; and
collect and request data and information on these practices.
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