Last Updated: Wednesday, 09 July 2014, 13:04 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Australia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Australia, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c18840cc.html [accessed 10 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

AUSTRALIA (Tier 1)

Australia is a source and destination country for women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically exploitation in forced prostitution, and, to a lesser extent, women and men in forced labor and children in commercial sexual exploitation. It is also a source country for child victims of sex trafficking. Primarily teenage girls, but also some boys, are forced into prostitution by pimps. Some indigenous teenage girls are exploited in prostitution at rural truck stops. Some women from Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Europe, migrate to Australia voluntarily intending to work legally or illegally in a number of employment sectors, including prostitution. Subsequent to their arrival, however, some of these women are coerced into illegal prostitution. They are sometimes held in captivity, subjected to physical and sexual violence and intimidation, manipulated through illegal drugs, and obliged to pay off unexpected or inflated debts to their traffickers. Some victims of sex trafficking have also been exploited in involuntary domestic servitude. For apparently the first time, a woman from Australia was identified as a trafficking victim in the United States.

Men and women from several Pacific islands, India, China, South Korea, and the Philippines are recruited to work temporarily in Australia. After their arrival, some are subjected by unscrupulous employers and labor agencies to forced labor in agriculture, viticulture, construction, and other sectors. They face confiscation of their travel documents, confinement on the employment site, threats of physical harm, and debt bondage through inflated debts imposed by employers or labor agencies. Most often, traffickers are part of small but highly sophisticated organized crime networks that frequently involve family and business connections between Australians and overseas contacts. Some traffickers attempt to hide their foreign victims from official notice or prevent victims from receiving assistance by abusing the legal system in order to create difficulties for victims who contact authorities for help. Relative to the population of Australia, research indicates that the estimated number of trafficking victims is modest.

The Government of Australia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Australia has adopted a whole-of-government response to people trafficking, which includes a national policing strategy and specialist police investigation teams, a victim support program which includes long-term residence and care for foreign victims, and extensive regional cooperation efforts. During the year, the government prosecuted and convicted trafficking offenders, amended victim protection regulations to better protect victims, continued a long-term trafficking research project, objectively evaluated its own anti-trafficking activities, and provided training and consultation to foreign government officials on trafficking matters. Labor trafficking and internal sex trafficking of children are less well understood. Recently, they have received greater attention from the media and academics, and the government has begun in-depth research and planning.

Recommendations for Australia: Continue to proactively identify trafficking victims within the legalized and illegal sex trades; expand efforts to criminally prosecute employers and labor recruiters who subject migrant workers to debt bondage and involuntary servitude; provide criminal penalties for employers who exploit foreign laborers; continue to take a programmatic leadership role in the Southeast Asia region; and expand current anti-trafficking awareness campaigns directed at clients of the sex trade.

Prosecution

The Government of Australia demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Australia prohibits sex and labor trafficking and trafficking-related offenses through Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, which prescribe maximum penalties from 12 to 25 years' imprisonment and fines of up to $152,000. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses. The Migration (Employer Sanctions Amendment) Act of 2007 prohibits exploiting migrant employees through forced labor, sexual servitude or slavery, and prescribes penalties of up to five years' imprisonment or various fines that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes. In the past year, the government prosecuted and convicted four sex trafficking offenders and two labor traffickers. Three are currently appealing their convictions. Seven additional sex trafficking prosecutions were initiated but not concluded as of the end of the reporting period. In February 2010, two traffickers were convicted in Cairns Supreme Court on charges of possessing and using a slave after luring a Filipina woman to Australia and enslaving her as a domestic servant and concubine. In late March 2010, a Tasmanian court sentenced one trafficker to ten years' imprisonment for prostituting a 12-year-old girl to more than 100 clients in 2009. After the conviction, police launched a manhunt for the 100 men who allegedly paid the pimp for sex with the child. In December 2009, police in Sydney arrested two men for sexually abusing and prostituting a teenage boy over an eight-year period in the 1980s. Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators with the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (TSETT), specialist units responsible for investigating trafficking offenses as well as child sex tourism and the on-line sexual exploitation of children, were trained to conduct complex, sensitive, protracted trafficking investigations in a multijurisdictional and international environment. The AFP sustained partnerships with several other countries' law enforcement authorities, sharing the benefit of their experience with them through an investigation training package covering legislation, investigative methodologies, trafficking trends, intelligence targeting, and victim liaison.

Protection

The Government of Australia increased its efforts to provide protection and care to victims of trafficking over the last year. Changes to the Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program and the People Trafficking Visa Framework, which went into effect on July 1, 2009, ensure that victims of trafficking can access support services regardless of whether they assist police with an investigation or prosecution. These amendments also abolished temporary witness protection visas, added a 20-day transition period for victims voluntarily leaving the support program, and sped up the process for granting permanent witness protection visas to foreign victims and their immediate family members. The Office of Women managed the Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program; between January 2009 and January 2010, it provided 57 victims with support, including accommodation, living expenses, legal aid, health services and counseling. Since 2004, approximately 10 percent of the victims who received services under the Program were victims of labor trafficking outside of the sex trade. Officials followed formal procedures for proactively identifying victims in vulnerable populations, including women involved in the legal sex trade, and referring them for services. The government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations. No victims were incarcerated, fined, or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.

Prevention

The Government of Australia demonstrated efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the year. The government committed $9.2 million for anti-trafficking activities in 2009-2010; it coordinated efforts of at least 10 government agencies guided by a 2003 anti-trafficking strategy. The government convened a meeting in June 2009 of the National Roundtable on People Trafficking, a mechanism for coordinating among its agencies and NGOs. In 2009, the government along with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Slavery Project published the National Guidelines for NGOs Working with Trafficked People. Officials continued to include the "Travel Smart: Hints for Australian Travelers," brochure with all passport issuances, which highlights Australian trafficking and child sex crime laws and details for reporting a possible violation of the child sex laws to the AFP. During the reporting period, the TSETT s conducted 372 investigations and assessments of allegations of child sex tourism offenses, and the government prosecuted one Australian alleged child sex tourist. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against Children) Bill 2010, passed by the Senate in March 2010 but not yet enacted, will increase prescribed penalties for child sex tourism to 20 years' imprisonment, and introduce new aggravated offenses with penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment. In October 2009, a local council in Melbourne introduced an "Anti Slavery and Sexual Servitude Local Law" requiring brothels to display signs in English, Thai, Korean, Chinese and Russian providing information on the crime of slavery and sexual servitude, and on how to seek help for those involved in sex slavery. Australian diplomats and consular personnel received training in identifying and providing assistance to victims of trafficking overseas. In addition, the government provided substantial funding for law enforcement training, victim assistance programs, and prevention activities throughout Southeast Asia. The Australian government foreign assistance agency, AUSAI D, funded the Asia Regional Traffic in Persons project (ARTI P), which promotes a coordinated approach to trafficking in persons by criminal justice systems throughout the region. Partner ARTI P countries include Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In February 2009, ARTI P presented ASEAN with a draft resource, Trafficking in Persons: Handbook on International Cooperation, which will provide a blueprint for mutual legal assistance and extradition in the region. The Australian government educated troops and police officers on trafficking issues, as well as the legal ramifications of engaging in or facilitating trafficking, or exploiting trafficking victims, prior to their deployments on international peacekeeping missions.

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