ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) will continue its anti-trafficking programs and advocacy, despite losing $125,000 Federal Government funding in June 2018. Following the funding blow, ACRATH launched a national fundraising campaign and has been overwhelmed with the response.
ACRATH’s Executive Officer Christine Carolan said the organisation is deeply grateful for the support and the generosity of people, especially religious groups, who responded so willingly to the appeal.
“This appeal not only makes it possible for us to continue our work, but it inspires us work to eliminate human trafficking and slavery in our world. So many people emailed us during the appeal with encouraging messages, urging us to keep going and to continue the fight against human trafficking and forced marriage,” Ms Carolan said.
ACRATH President Sr Noelene Simmons SM said: “While the Federal Government grant has been an important part of our funding, our supporters have always been our major contributors. But this time we had to go to them and ask them to give us more, and they did. We also received many donations from people who had not given to ACRATH before who passionately wanted this work to continue.”
ACRATH is involved in many anti-trafficking projects, but key areas include:
- Forced marriage prevention and awareness raising. ACRATH is working in Catholic and Government schools across Australia to raise awareness of forced marriage and to train teachers to better respond to a disclosure by a student at risk.
- Working with Catholic health and aged care providers to slavery-proof their services and supply chains. ACRATH is working for the second year across the 28 sites of St Vincent’s Health Australia, which is changing the way hospitals identify and treat trafficked people and ‘slavery proof’ the goods and services they use. This project has raised awareness amongst 17,000 staff. Other hospitals are looking to work with ACRATH to develop similar programs in their hospitals.
- Establishing and expanding the Victoria-Tasmania Catholic Anti-Slavery Working Group along with the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and supporting the work of the Sydney Archdiocese’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce.
- Disseminating forced marriage awareness-raising materials to ACRATH volunteers and marriage celebrants.
- Creating awareness in the community, particularly in vulnerable communities, of the risk of labour exploitation. ACRATH is advocating with 22 Pacific Islanders egregiously exploited on Australian farms to ensure justice for them and to promote systems that prevents future exploitation.
- Assisting 28 trafficked women through our Companionship Program, which involves 17 trained ACRATH volunteers. Twenty-four children are also assisted through the program.
Ms Carolan said the fundraising would also provide support for the dozens of ACRATH volunteers across the country, some of whom provide companionship to trafficked women. ACRATH volunteers donated more than 8000 hours of time in the past year, conservatively valued at $238,189.
“More and more Australians are discovering that modern day slavery happens in this country today and often under our very eyes. Young girls are forced to marry; workers are brought into the country and forced to work in slave-like conditions and people who are not paid a living wage produce much of what we eat, buy and use. This fundraising support allows us to keep working on these issues. We can’t stop until modern day slavery is wiped out,” she said.
With thanks to ACRATH.