ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) has launched its national fundraising appeal today in a bid to raise $400,000 to continue its work fighting human trafficking and modern slavery. ACRATH now relies entirely on donations after last year losing its $125,000 a year grant from the Federal Government. ACRATH’s Executive Officer Christine Carolan said the community’s generosity in the past year had ensured ACRATH’s raft of programs to combat modern day slavery and forced marriage had continued.
“In the past year with community donations we have been able to achieve a great deal,” Ms Carolan said. “We have worked closely with the community and government, health, education and civic leaders to bring about systemic change and prevent human trafficking and slavery.”
Donor support has made a huge difference in the past year. Some significant achievements include:
- Several young women facing a forced marriage were able to seek support from front-line responders (teachers and health workers) who were trained by ACRATH. These workers were able to follow the referral and support pathway that includes Australian Federal Police. In the past 18 months 956 front-line responders across Australia have received training from an ACRATH presenter at one of 19 sessions.
- Schools and Catholic institutions across Australia are transitioning to slavery-free staffrooms with ACRATH support and resources. A resource kit,Slavery proofing your staffroom, developed in partnership with Catholic Education Melbourne and Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, is being developed for use by schools across the country later in 2019.
- 22 men from Vanuatu, forced into labour in Australia, who returned home penniless five years ago, are closer to receiving compensation because ACRATH volunteers have advocated for their rights. In April the Fair Work Ombudsman made an application to the Federal Court for an enforcement hearing to be conducted in respect to the exploitative employer/contractor.
- Women trafficked into sexual exploitation in Australia have a volunteer companion who supports them as they rebuild their lives. ACRATH set up the Companionship program 11 years ago and there are now seventeen ACRATH volunteers who work as companions, supporting 28 women and their 24 children.
- St Vincent’s Health Australia, in partnership with ACRATH, is working to slavery-proof its supply chains across 28 sites. This work promotes the right to a just wage for the people who produce everything from cotton uniforms to rubber gloves.
- Major health agencies and institutions are better able to respond to the Modern Slavery Act because ACRATH is training key people. First reports to the Federal Government are due by December 2020.
- A Perth ACRATH office was opened this year, expanding the organisation’s capacity to support girls and women at risk of forced marriage.
ACRATH President Sr Noelene Simmons sm said there were great challenges ahead for the organisation as long as any person was enslaved.
“We have ACRATH volunteers working across the country, with almost 8000 hours of volunteer time donated, conservatively costed at $240,000. Each of these people work because they believe that People are NOT for sale, and that’s been our tagline for more than a decade,” Sr Noelene said.
“While ACRATH works globally to ensure human trafficking is eliminated, in Australia our focus is on supporting those who have experienced forced labour or who are at risk of, or have experienced, forced marriage, and raising awareness about the possible existence of slavery in the goods we purchase.”
Please make a donation to ACRATH today
To find out more about the work of ACRATH go to www.acrath.org.au
With thanks to ACRATH.