Amplifying Our Impact: Australia’s International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery

23 March 2016

"In the long history of human wrongs, the trade in human beings will go down as one of the greatest crimes ever committed."

— His Excellency Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations 1997-2006


Human trafficking and slavery are serious and often transnational crimes encompassing a wide range of exploitative practices.

Trafficking involves the recruitment and harbouring of a person for the purpose of exploitation, through means of coercion, threat or deception; slavery occ urs when a person exercises the right of ownership over a person; while slavery-like practices involve exploitation so serious they can be considered similar to slavery. The link between all three is that they result in the gravest violations of human rights. They also have a detrimental impact on sustainable development and regional security.

No country in the world is immune to these crimes, with almost every country affected as a point of origin, transit or destination for victims. Our neighbourhood – the Indo-Pacific – is a significant region of origin for victims who are trafficked across much of the world. The vast majority of Indo-Pacific trafficking offenders also come from within the region.1

This strategy amplifies Australia's efforts to address these crimes. It sets priorities for our engagement; enhances our leadership and coordination; and enhances our advocacy to promote regional and international cooperation. Our approach is comprehensive as it engages multiple stakeholders, and is founded on the four central pillars underpinning Australia's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19: prevention and deterrence; detection and investigation; prosecution and compliance; and victim support and protection.

Australia is committed to being a regional leader in the total eradication of human trafficking and slavery.

Human Trafficking and Slavery – a Global Problem

What is human trafficking and slavery?

For ease of reference, this strategy uses ‘human trafficking and slavery' as an umbrella term for a wide range of exploitative practices. These encompass slavery-like practices, including servitude, forced labour, deceptive recruiting, debt bondage and forced marriage.

Human trafficking is the recruitment and harbouring of a person for the purpose of exploitation through means of coercion, threat or deception. It may or may not include the crossing of international borders. Where the victim is a child, the element of coercion, threat or deception is not required.

Slavery occurs when a person exercises the right of ownership over a person. This includes the buying or selling of a person, and circumstances where someone exercises the power to make a person an object of purchase, use a person or their labour without restriction, control or restrict a person's movements, or use a person's services without commensurate compensation.

Slavery-like practices involve exploitation so serious they can be considered similar to slavery.

While human trafficking and slavery can occur within a country's borders, these crimes are often transnational. The cross-border movement of people for exploitative purposes can occur through legal migration pathways, or in the context of irregular migration. Regional experience has indicated there is some convergence with people smuggling, particularly in the criminal networks which facilitate these movements, and where smuggled migrants become trafficking victims. Tackling human trafficking and slavery is also an important means of addressing gender equality and ending violence against women, with global figures indicating women and girls are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.2

While economic growth and increased labour mobility are providing the people of the Indo-Pacific with greater opportunities, they have also heightened the risks of exploitation. The prevalence of serious forms of labour exploitation in global supply chains, including human trafficking and slavery, is an issue of increasing concern for Australian businesses and consumers, posing significant human rights concerns as well as reputational risks to Australian brands and retailers.

In just a two year period, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) identified trafficking victims of 152 different citizenships in 124 countries across the globe.3 According to the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2014, trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation is the most prevalent form of exploitation in East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific, comprising 64 per cent of detected victims.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated as many as 20.9 million people worldwide are subject to forced labour (including sexual and domestic exploitation), with 11.7 million (56 per cent) in the Asia Pacific.4 According to the ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour 2012, 90 per cent of victims worldwide are exploited in the private economy, including 68 per cent forced labour exploitation, and 22 per cent for sexual exploitation. A further 10 per cent are in state-imposed forms of forced labour such as in prisons, or work imposed by the state military or rebel armed forces. The ILO also estimates that forced labour generates US$150 billion a year in illicit profits.5

According to the ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour 2012 there are approximately:

  • 11.7million victims in the Asia Pacific region
  • 3.7 million victims in Africa
  • 1.8 million victims in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 1.6 million victims in Developed Economies and EU
  • 1.5 million victims in Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
  • 600,000 victims in the Middle East

Australia’s response

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 Three, National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19


In December 2014, the Australian Government launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19 (National Action Plan), which provides the strategic framework for Australia's whole-of-community response to human trafficking and slavery.6

Australia's international engagement to combat human trafficking and slavery is substantial and varied. Our response is founded on four central pillars: prevention and deterrence; detection and investigation; prosecution and compliance; and victim support and protection. It involves a number of agencies to work in consultation with key stakeholders including partner governments, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).7

To better realise the vision of Australia as a regional leader in combating human trafficking and slavery, this strategy will amplify the impact of Australia's international efforts by:

  1. setting strategic priorities for our engagement;
  2. enhancing our leadership and coordination; and
  3. enhancing our advocacy, to promote regional and international cooperation in response to human trafficking and slavery.

1. Strategic Priorities

"Human rights, freedom, democracy - these have been part of the very fabric of Australia from its beginnings as a modern nation. That legacy underpins our commitment today … to the total eradication of slavery and human trafficking"

— The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Address to launch Australia’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council 2018-20

Geographic Focus

Australia will continue to work internationally at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels to tackle human trafficking and slavery in all of its forms.

Southeast Asia will be the principal focus of Australia’s engagement. Southeast Asia is a region where human trafficking and slavery is an issue of significant concern, as recognised by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in their adoption of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children at their Summit in November 2015.8

Australia’s focus on Southeast Asia does not preclude our engagement with other countries and regions as opportunities arise. For example, in 2015 the Attorney-General’s Department hosted ten Sri Lankan government officials for a Study Forum on Witness and Victim Protection, to assist Sri Lanka in strengthening its laws and capacity to combat human trafficking.

Bilaterally, Australia will continue to work with our Southeast Asian partners to build national and regional responses to human trafficking and slavery, including in the areas of international legal assistance, law enforcement cooperation and immigration capacity building and technical assistance.

Australia will also work at the bilateral level to implement our regional anti-trafficking and safe migrations programs. This includes our flagship anti-trafficking program, the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP, AU$50 million 2013-18) – Southeast Asia’s largest single dedicated anti-trafficking investment. And we will work to reduce the vulnerability of migrant workers to trafficking in Southeast Asia through our collaboration with the ILO on the TRIANGLE II program (AU$20 million, 2015-2025).9

Multi-stakeholder cooperation in the Philippines

On 3 June 2015, Australia signed the Manila Declaration to Enhance International Cooperation in Combating Human Trafficking during the First International Dialogue on Human Trafficking in the Philippines. The Declaration calls on participants to strengthen international cooperation to combat human trafficking in the Philippines, and was signed by representatives of 19 countries, along with international and civil society organisations. The Australian Government will actively pursue closer coordination of anti-trafficking activities in the Philippines through our Embassy in Manila, drawing on the existing work of multiple agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Federal Police.

Immigration Capacity Building

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) works with counterpart agencies in Southeast Asia to enhance their capacity to manage regular and irregular migration flows. Activities include assistance with border management systems, technical training, and funding to improve the livelihoods of irregular migrants.

For example, DIBP funds the International Organization for Migration to provide training and coordinated support to relevant agencies in the Indonesian Government to equip them with the skills to respond effectively to irregular migration.


Regionally, Australia’s efforts will focus on driving greater cooperation and coordination to address human trafficking and slavery across the broader Indo-Pacific region, as well as within ASEAN.

The Bali Process

The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (‘the Bali Process’) provides an opportunity to work together to tackle these common regional challenges. Australia co-chairs the Bali Process with Indonesia; it is the principal mechanism for Australia’s regional cooperation. With 48 member countries and international organisations, the Bali Process drives information and intelligence sharing, practical law enforcement and international crime cooperation in the region, and provides a forum to share lessons learned from member countries’ domestic activities.

A key outcome of collaboration between members has been the development of regional policy guides providing practical tips for policymakers on how to effectively criminalise people smuggling and human trafficking, and how to identify and protect victims. Ensuring strong and effective criminal law frameworks across our region strengthens our collective response against criminals involved in these activities, who often exploit gaps in domestic laws in order to evade justice. The Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons continues to use the guides to train officials from member countries.

A Joint Period of Action has also been held by the Bali Process Working Group on Disruption of Criminal Networks. Between September-October 2015, eight countries (including Australia) and INTERPOL, conducted activities to combat people smuggling and trafficking networks in the region. Participants launched new investigations, made numerous arrests, assisted victims, and conducted awareness raising and capacity building activities. Australia is preparing to participate in another Joint Period of Action in 2016.

Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP)

The AAPTIP is Australia’s third consecutive development program to focus on strengthening criminal justice responses to trafficking in Southeast Asia. AAPTIP first began in 2003, making this one of the longest-running interventions of its kind in the world.

This Australian assistance has been instrumental in shaping the recently-signed ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking In Persons, a landmark binding agreement among the ten member states of ASEAN. The foundational ASEAN Practitioner Guidelines, referred to in the Convention’s preamble, were developed with Australian technical assistance and support.

As ASEAN looks to implement the Convention, AAPTIP will continue to provide support at the regional and bilateral levels. The program is partnering with ASEAN Member States to develop and deliver region-wide training on transnational investigative cooperation and financial investigations, as well as assisting prosecutors to undertake international legal cooperation for the exchange of evidence in trafficking trials. AAPTIP is also developing guidelines with ASEAN to improve support for trafficking victims acting as witnesses in criminal trials.


Multilaterally, Australia supports the development and implementation of international rules and norms to tackle human trafficking and slavery. We will continue to support and sponsor frameworks, resolutions and debate on this issue in relevant multilateral bodies, including the UN Human Rights Council and related bodies, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In line with this, Australia is formally considering ratification of the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, taking into account our national laws and practice.

Multilateral advocacy through the United Nations

In October-November 2015, Australia was active in negotiating, and ultimately co-sponsored, the most recent UN General Assembly Third Committee resolution on Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons. The resolution highlights the need to promote and fully implement the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.


Australia is an active supporter of efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery in UN processes, such as the:

  • Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review;
  • Third Committee of the General Assembly;
  • Commission on the Status of Women;
  • Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice;
  • Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice;
  • Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime Working Group on Trafficking in Persons;
  • Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery; and 12 International Labour Conference.
Partnering with intergovernmental organisations in Southeast Asia

Through the Attorney- General’s Department, the Australian government is partnering with the International Organization for Migration to support the Indonesian Government’s efforts to prosecute human trafficking and related transnational crime. The project will deliver a legal review of how criminal laws are being applied in trafficking cases in Indonesia, update the existing handbook for law and justice practitioners, and conduct related training in key provinces.

The Attorney-General’s Department has also partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and counterparts from a range of Vietnamese government agencies, to assist Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen its criminal laws on human trafficking. This involved a series of legal drafting workshops in 2015, where participants developed amendments to Vietnam’s draft penal code to strengthen human trafficking and related transnational crime offences in line with international standards.

Pillars of Engagement

Australia’s international initiatives span all four pillars of the National Action Plan – prevention and deterrence; detection and investigation; prosecution and compliance; and victim support and protection. The balance of our approach across these pillars will be guided by an assessment of where the Australian Government can make the most impact, based on our domestic experience and expertise, and taking into account the priorities of partner governments and the activities of other key stakeholders.

Prevention and Deterrence

Prevention and Deterrence is an important feature of Australia’s efforts in Southeast Asia. Our previous support to the MTV End Exploitation and Trafficking (EXIT) Program (2010-2014), and Project Childhood (AU$7.5 million, 2010-2014) helped raised awareness of the problem in the region. Australia’s ongoing efforts under this pillar will be focused on promoting safe migration; addressing serious forms of labour exploitation in supply chains, including through business outreach; and addressing the underlying causes of human trafficking and slavery.

Australia’s work with the ILO on the first phase of the Tripartite Action to Protect Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Sub-region from Labour Exploitation (TRIANGLE) program (AU$9.4 million, 2010-2015) underlined the particular vulnerability of migrant workers to all forms of exploitation, including human trafficking, and the importance of providing safe and legal migration pathways as a means of reducing this vulnerability. Safe migration will therefore form a core part of our preventative approach in the region, notably through our new ten-year investment in TRIANGLE II.

Supporting safe migration in Southeast Asia - TRIANGLE

TRIANGLE (2010-15) supported the establishment of 27 Migrant Worker Resource Centres (MRCs) in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to provide knowledge and resources to migrant workers to safeguard their rights. These centres are a powerful alternative to the misleading information that can be provided by unscrupulous brokers and employers, and which can lead a migrant worker into an exploitative situation, including trafficking.

MRCs facilitate access to justice. From 2010-2015, MRCs benefited nearly 62,000 migrant workers and awarded around US$1.2 million in compensation, including for trafficked victims. Surveys revealed almost 90 per cent of Cambodian and Vietnamese migrant workers who migrated through legal channels said counselling received from MRCs influenced their decision not to migrate through irregular channels, in turn reducing their risk of being exploited.

TRIANGLE II

Under the ASEAN Economic Community, economic growth and stability will increasingly depend on the effective management of the movement of migrant workers within and from the region. The Tripartite Action to Enhance the Contribution of Labour Migration to Growth and Development in ASEAN (TRIANGLE II) will work to improve access to safe and legal migration channels and better jobs, where rights are protected and skills recognised during migration and on return.

It will also work to address some of the root causes that contribute to migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation, and which are often experienced by those who migrate irregularly. Implemented by the International Labour Organization, TRIANGLE II will operate at regional and national levels, working with governments, employers, recruitment agencies, trade unions, civil society organisations and ASEAN bodies.

Addressing the exploitation of women migrants

Complementing Australia’s work on TRIANGLE I and II, the Preventing the Exploitation of Women Migrant Workers in ASEAN Project (AU$2 million, 2014-16, with UN Women) works at regional and national levels to strengthen protections to counter and prevent the abuse, violence, trafficking and exploitation of women migrant workers in Southeast Asia. Project activities focus on advocating gender sensitive policy responses, including within ASEAN institutions, as well as improving awareness among women in the region about the dangers of migration and their legal rights.


Australia will also work to prevent serious forms of labour exploitation in supply chains in the Indo-Pacific, a key region of vulnerability. This includes supporting programs such as the ILO Better Work Programme in Southeast Asia, and our active engagement in preparations for the 2016 International Labour Conference to ensure a robust discussion on the theme of 'decent work in supply chains'.

Better Work Programme

From 1 July 2016, the Australian Government will provide new funding of US$3 million over three years to the International Labour Organization’s Better Work Programme. Better Work has a strong emphasis on improving global supply chains to respect human rights, and brings together workers, employers and buyers to assess the labour standards in garment factories, and to design strategies for improvement. It plays a significant role in the economic empowerment of women, who account for 80 per cent of workers in this sector. Gender discrimination is one of the key issues addressed by Better Work. Australia will contribute funding to country programs in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Bali Process Symposium on Trafficking for the Purposes of Labour Exploitation

In March 2015, Australia and Thailand co-chaired a Regional Symposium on Trafficking for the Purposes of Labour Exploitation, the first activity of the Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons. The symposium was attended by 117 participants from over 30 Bali Process member countries, along with academics, international organisations, industry and NGOs. It focused on trends in trafficking for labour exploitation in the region, and identified areas for regional cooperation through the Working Group, including engaging more effectively with NGOs and industry, and developing best practice guidance and training on combating labour trafficking.


Business has a vital role to play in addressing human trafficking and slavery in its supply chains. The Supply Chains Working Group has been established under the National Action Plan to provide expert advice and recommendations to government about possible strategies to address serious forms of labour exploitation in Australian supply chains. It comprises representatives from business and industry, alongside government, civil society, unions and academia.

The Australian Government will extend its outreach to business to build better linkages between the work of the Supply Chains Working Group and our international engagement to combat labour exploitation. Our work to facilitate Australian business engagement in the ILO’s seafood buyer reference group is one such example.

The Business Partnerships Platform also provides a potential avenue for businesses to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on measures to prevent human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains.10 In 2016, the Australian Government will progress domestic consultations on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including the possibilities of guidelines to assist Australian businesses operating overseas.

Addressing exploitation and trafficking in the seafood sector

Through Phase I and II of TRIANGLE, the Australian Government is supporting Australian business to engage in the ILO’s Good Labour Practices Programme – a comprehensive fisheries industry improvement program that combines the establishment of industry labour guidelines with a supportive training program on good labour practices.

Led by the Thai Government through their Department of Fisheries and Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, and predominantly funded by the United States and European Union, this program engages with actors all the way along the seafood supply chain, capitalising on pressure from buyers (including leading Australian seafood importers) to reduce opportunities for exploitation and ensure workers know their rights. Australia remains active in this space and will continue to work with other donors to develop collaborative approaches to address exploitation, including in its worst forms. Increased regulation and enforcement of good labour conditions provides an important disincentive for trafficking, forced labour and slavery in the fishing sector.


While the root causes and drivers of human trafficking and slavery are diverse, they are often underpinned by common factors such as poverty, lack of economic opportunity, unemployment or underemployment, and low rates of education or literacy. In many cases these risks are intensified for women and girls. Trafficking is often a cause as well as a consequence of gender inequality.

Australia’s aid program works to address these broad drivers throughout the Indo-Pacific region, under its two core objectives – to support private sector development, including livelihoods; and to strengthen human development, including through education and health, and by promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.11

Some of Australia’s aid programs are also targeted at specific drivers within local communities, such as in situations of conflict. Through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), DFAT also supports a number of NGO projects aimed at addressing the specific root causes of human trafficking and slavery in local communities in Southeast Asia.

Protecting children from armed conflict

Australia has supported UNICEF’s Child Protection program in Myanmar since 2012, including providing children released from the Myanmar Armed Forces with schooling and livelihood opportunities to support their successful reintegration into the community. The program has trained NGO workers to identify and report on violations against children in situations of armed conflict. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Myanmar as it undertakes activities to ensure its army is child-free, as co-chair of the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting.

Criminal Justice Responses (Detection and Investigation; Prosecution and Compliance)

Establishing credible criminal justice responses to human trafficking and slavery, including prosecutions and recovering the proceeds of crime, remains vital to reducing the incentives for perpetrators in what can be a lucrative trade. Australia will continue to engage strongly in building criminal justice responses to human trafficking and slavery in our region, drawing on our experience in implementing strong legal systems and regulatory frameworks to prevent human trafficking and slavery.

This includes building legal and law enforcement capacity in partner countries, through strengthened legal frameworks, investigations and prosecutions; and promoting international crime cooperation as a means of tackling human trafficking and slavery in cases where it involves transnational crime.

Reducing the incentives of traffickers through criminal justice responses

The Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP) is a leading partner for the countries of Southeast Asia in strengthening the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of trafficking crimes. Its overall goal is to reduce the incentives and opportunities for human trafficking in the ASEAN region. At the national level, AAPTIP is designed to deliver programs in seven ASEAN countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These programs are demand-driven and are tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of each country. At the regional level, AAPTIP works with all ASEAN members states – including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore – to promote and strengthen regional coordination.

Among early examples of its achievements, AAPTIP has formalised cooperation between Myanmar’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force specialist investigators and local police officers, and embedded updated Specialist Training and Standard Operating Procedures on Trafficking in Persons for the Philippines National Police.

AAPTIP is also providing intensive technical support to the newly established specialist prosecutors unit dedicated to trafficking cases in Thailand’s Office of the Attorney-General. AAPTIP has supported a pilot of continuous trials in trafficking cases in the Philippines that is reducing the time taken for trials to conclude, as well as working with judges from Laos on the inclusion of defence lawyers in trafficking cases.

The program played a pivotal role in the drafting of Myanmar’s updated law on human trafficking, a significant advance on existing legislation scheduled for consideration by parliament in 2016.

With a special focus on supporting victims through the criminal justice process, the program has supported the successful establishment of Victim Witness Coordinators to work with prosecutors in the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Building law enforcement capacity and cooperation in the Philippines

In 2015, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) trained over 350 Philippine Law Enforcement Agency members in human rights compliant investigative techniques to apply in cases of human trafficking, such as cognitive interviewing, cybercrime investigations, intelligence analysis and sharing, and surveillance. The AFP also works closely with the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP) to deliver anti- human trafficking capacity building to Philippine law enforcement officers.

The AFP regularly conducts joint anti-trafficking in persons operations with other foreign and Philippine law enforcement officers. In 2015, over 75 such operations were conducted in the Philippines, resulting in the dismantling of numerous human trafficking syndicates, and the arrest and prosecution of numerous trafficking suspects in the Philippines, Australia and other parts of the world.

Victim Support and Protection

The Australian Government advocates among international partners for the adoption of responses that provide victim support and protection, and which respect the rights of victims. In particular, Australia advocates for gender appropriate responses which address the differential impact of human trafficking and slavery on women and men, boys and girls.

We also apply a strong focus on victim support and protection across our criminal justice work, such as through the activities of the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP) and the Bali Process.

A gender sensitive approach

A focus for AAPTIP is integrating gender-sensitive approaches into the work of criminal justice practitioners in the region. With Cambodian government partners AAPTIP is tackling gender-based stereotypes and promoting the active participation of female investigators in trafficking investigations. Using coaching, on-the-job training, workshops and commitments from senior officers, AAPTIP has supported female Cambodian investigators to take on duties from which they were previously barred, such as surveillance, effecting searches and undertaking interviews.

Ms. Ou Sokhom, 37 years old, has been a Cambodian National Police officer in the Office of Anti Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection of Phnom Penh commissariat since 2004. Despite attending a number of training courses in that time, she has been unable to practice the skills she acquired; in fact, during her 10 years as a police officer, Sokhom has only been involved in four operations.

AAPTIP is providing Sokhom with hands-on coaching and professional development, preparing her to take on increased responsibility – while also working closely with the Chief of Office to address impediments to the increased involvement of women police officers in trafficking investigations.

Following AAPTIP’s engagement, Sokhom and her female colleague have been allocated by the Chief of Office to join three investigatory operations, conducting searches and raids targeting trafficking and exploitation in Phnom Penh.


The NGO sector is often best placed to provide victim support and protection services in-country, drawing on their expertise and networks to reach the most vulnerable communities. The Australian Government is pleased to support the efforts of Australian NGOs under this pillar through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Support to Australian Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

The Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) is an annual grants program that provides funding to accredited NGOs to support their development activities overseas. The ANCP recognises the unique strengths that NGOs bring to development activities, which both complements and strengthens Australia’s overall aid efforts.

While NGOs retain discretion of how ANCP funding is allocated amongst their programs, the Australian Government is pleased to support a number of ANCP projects which directly tackle human trafficking and its causes in local communities.

Through ANCP, Australia has been the key contributor to World Vision’s Ending Trafficking in Persons (ETIP) program in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2011-16, total ANCP contribution AU$5.9 million, AU$6.675 million including matched funds by World Vision Australia). ETIP is implemented in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and focuses on reducing the vulnerability of local communities to trafficking; strengthening protection services available to vulnerable people and victims of trafficking; and advocating for an effective policy environment that increases protection and wellbeing of victims and those vulnerable to trafficking. Among its achievements, ETIP has set up more than 150 youth clubs with over 5,000 youth participating regularly in the clubs, and more than 200,000 individuals have been reached through trafficking prevention events. Working with interagency partners, ETIP has contributed to the identification of and immediate assistance to more than 4,000 trafficking victims. It has directly supported 542 survivors of trafficking, helping them to return to their home or a safe community where they can rebuild their lives.

In 2015-16 the ANCP is funding seven other projects by NGOs working to address specific vulnerabilities to trafficking and to provide victim support and reintegration services in local communities in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.


In addition to the ANCP, funding may also be available to NGOs under other DFAT grant programs. The Direct Aid Program (DAP) and its multilateral sub-program, the International Development Fund (IDF), offer small grants to help local communities in developing countries achieve practical outcomes on projects that reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, including in support of human rights.12

The Business Partnerships Platform assists businesses to invest in projects in developing countries with a social and commercial return, providing access to DFAT’s development and business expertise, accompanied by a matched grant or joint investments.13

Working Across the Four Pillars - Benjina Island

In March 2015, reports into human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry were published, detailing the enslavement of hundreds of fisherman from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos on the eastern Indonesian island of Benjina. In response, the Governments of Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos worked in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to rescue and repatriate over 600 victims of trafficking.

Through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), the Australian government provided AU$2.17 million to IOM for the provision of daily care, return and reintegration assistance of the fisherman.

The Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP) has convened an innovative forum bringing together investigators and prosecutors from Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia to collaborate on prosecutions arising from the trafficking cases in Benjina. These in-person meetings have allowed investigators and prosecutors to share case information, make specific requests for assistance from each other and develop the informal relationships of trust that underpin successful cross-border cooperation. This four-country international cooperation builds on previous AAPTIP support for Myanmar Police Force investigators and Indonesia’s Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) to undertake victim identification work supporting prosecutions of trafficking in the fishing industry.

Through TRIANGLE II, we support Australian businesses to engage in the ILO’s Good Labour Practices Programme, a collaboration between the Thai Government and major actors in the seafood supply chain, including buyers from Australia, the United States and Europe, to prevent this type of exploitation from happening again.

2. Enhancing Leadership and Coordination

With a number of Australian Government agencies engaged in combating human trafficking and slavery internationally, it is vital we maximise these efforts through effective coordination.

Under this strategy, the Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues was renamed as the Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking. This better reflects Australia’s ongoing commitment to combating human trafficking and slavery, both as an irregular migration issue and where it occurs within country borders. The Ambassador will act as an advocate for enhanced international cooperation, and will give greater focus to Australia’s international engagement. He will be supported by an International Working Group, which will report to the Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery, and will drive the government’s international efforts and report to the National Action Plan’s Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery.

"As co-chair of the Bali Process, Australia plays a leading role in regional cooperation on human trafficking issues. The re-naming of my title to specifically include human trafficking further highlights Australia’s commitment to tackling this serious crime. I look forward to continuing, and further amplifying, Australia’s regional and international advocacy to make this strategy work in practice."

— Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues


Whole-of-community engagement is an important aspect of the government’s approach under the international strategy, as it is under the National Action Plan. We will engage domestic stakeholders including civil society, business, industry and unions through existing frameworks, notably the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery, in order to ensure Australia’s international policies are well calibrated with the work of domestic stakeholders. We will also continue to report on international engagement through the annual report to Parliament of the Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery.14

Through our diplomatic network Australia will maintain regular coordination with key international stakeholders working to combat human trafficking and slavery, particularly in Southeast Asia. This includes our partners in Southeast Asia and further afield, such as the United States and European Union, as well as the ILO, UNODC and UNHCR, and key NGOs. This will ensure we avoid duplication of efforts and explore opportunities for collaboration.

3. Enhancing our Advocacy

Robust and consistent advocacy is vital to ensuring the challenge of human trafficking and slavery is both recognised and addressed internationally. Australia’s Ambassador for Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues will lead Australia’s international advocacy under this strategy, alongside the Ambassador for Women and Girls, the Ambassador for ASEAN, and our diplomatic networks in Southeast Asia, the broader Indo-Pacific region and in key multilateral missions such as New York, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna.

Using these diplomatic networks, the Australian Government will undertake more coordinated and targeted advocacy, and identify opportunities to promote cooperation at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. This includes advocacy to encourage the ratification and implementation of relevant international frameworks, particularly the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Trafficking Protocol.

Australia will also continue to share lessons learned from our own domestic experiences, particularly under the National Action 30 Plan. And we will continue to respond to international requests for information on Australian best practice, including: our criminal justice responses to human trafficking and slavery; the regulation of our labour markets against exploitation; our criminalisation of forced marriage; and our broader engagement with non-government stakeholders including civil society, business, industry, and unions.

Ambassador for Women and Girls

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls is one of our highest level international advocates for gender equality and the political, economic and social empowerment of women and girls. She works through international fora, regional partnerships and during her bilateral visits to promote this agenda, including building cooperation to end trafficking and slavery of women and girls.

The Ambassador used her visits to Indonesia, Madagascar, India and Cambodia to highlight the threats posed to women and girls by human trafficking and slavery. She has supported the programs of civil society organisations, such as Hagar International, Migrant Care, ECPAT and Indian NGO Apne Aap, which are working to end trafficking and help survivors rebuild their lives. The Ambassador has raised awareness of international efforts to end trafficking, including in Southeast Asia under the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP).

Each year, the Ambassador attends the UN Commission on the Status of Women and shares information on Australia’s policies and programs to address human trafficking and slavery, advocating for strong international responses to these crimes.

Supporting International Frameworks

Strong international frameworks and effective international legal cooperation are essential to combating human trafficking. The UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Trafficking Protocol are critical to these efforts and Australia supports ongoing work by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to strengthen their implementation. For example, at the most recent UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Doha, April 2015), Australia worked to ensure the ‘Doha Declaration’ contained strong language on preventing and combating human trafficking, while protecting victims. Australia participates in the biennial UN Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, which recently adopted a number of practical recommendations for member states to consider to further strengthen implementation of the Trafficking Protocol.

Australian best practice – Protections for private domestic workers employed by foreign officials

Internationally, the alleged exploitation of private domestic workers by foreign officials has become a matter of significant NGO, media and public concern. Private domestic workers employed by members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and other eligible foreign officials are, as a group, vulnerable to exploitation owing to their isolation in private residences, their reliance on their employers for accommodation and migration status, and their employers’ immunity from prosecution.

In 2014, the Australian Government established a Working Group on Protections for Private Domestic Workers Working for Diplomats or Consular Officials, to develop a range of measures to address the vulnerability of these domestic workers. As a result of the Working Group, some reforms have been implemented, including a requirement for all (subclass 403) Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream applicants to be interviewed prior to their departure for Australia and for any renewal of their visa. Other recommendations are under consideration.

Sharing the Experiences of Survivors of Trafficking

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on 25 November 2015 the Australian Embassy in Bangkok hosted an exhibition of paintings illustrating the experiences of women who have been trafficked into Cebu in the Philippines, entitled ‘I Have a Voice’.

The exhibition and its accompanying book are a collaboration between Sister of Mercy, Angela Reed Ph.D, a member of the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) organisation, and Marietta Latonio, a Filipino social worker. ‘I Have a Voice’ was created at the request of survivors of trafficking so their experiences could be understood, and not condemned.

 

Footnotes

1.  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2014)

2  The ILO estimates 55 per cent of victims of forced labour are women and girls (Global Estimate of Forced Labour, 2012); the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates 70 per cent of trafficking victims are women and girls (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2014).

3  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2014).

4  ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour, 2012. ILO’s calculations for ‘Asia Pacific’ incorporate figures from South Asia including Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, but exclude figures from the Developed Economies of Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

5  Profits and Poverty: the Economics of Forced Labour, ILO 2014.

6  See www.ag.gov.au/humantrafficking.

7  Australian Government agencies include the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australian Federal Police and Department of Employment.

8  The annual US Trafficking in Persons Report provides a detailed assessment of individual countries’ responses to human trafficking worldwide, according to minimum US standards. It ranks countries according to the scale of the problem and their government’s response. In 2015, no Southeast Asian countries were ranked in Tier 1, and 6 of 11 were ranked in the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3.

9  Tripartite Action to Enhance the Contribution of Labour Migration to Growth and Development in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

10  The Business Partnerships Platform has been established to assist businesses to invest in projects in developing countries with a social and commercial return, providing access to DFAT’s development and business expertise, accompanied by a matched grant or joint investments. For more information go to: dfat.gov.au/aid/who-we-work-with/private-sector-partnerships/opportunities/Pages/business-partnerships-platform.aspx.

11  See dfat.gov.au/aid/Pages/australias-aid-program.aspx

12  DAP is funded from Australia’s aid budget and managed by Australia’s diplomatic missions overseas. The IDF is managed through Australia’s permanent missions to the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna, and to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. See: dfat.gov.au/aid/topics/development-issues/direct-aid-program/Pages/direct-aid-program.aspx

13  See: dfat.gov.au/aid/who-we-work-with/private-sector-partnerships/opportunities/Pages/business-partnerships-platform.aspx

14  For previous reports see: https://www.ag.gov.au/CrimeAndCorruption/HumanTrafficking/ Pages/Australias-response-to-human-trafficking.aspx





Last Updated: 23 March 2016