Sydney teachers learn how to combat human trafficking

19 March 2018

Sydney teachers learn how to combat human trafficking – clean up supply chains

Teachers from Sydney Catholic secondary schools will tomorrow (March 20) take an important step forward in the move to slavery-proof supply chains of goods and services in the Sydney Archdiocese. The teachers are participating in a human trafficking in-service run by ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).

ACRATH president Sr Noelene Simmons sm will run the in-service for teachers on March 20, assisted by Professor Jennifer Burn, Director of Anti-Slavery Australia and Professor of Law at the University of Technology Sydney.  Both women are members of the Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce headed by former Australian ambassador to the Vatican, John McCarthy QC.

The Taskforce has made recommendations, which include slavery proofing supply chains in the Archdiocese, including goods and services at all Catholic schools. The in-service is the first step in educating teachers on how supply chains relate to human trafficking.

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“Before targeting the supply chain of a particular product or service in a school, we need to educate teachers about the issue. They in turn can educate other staff and students. ACRATH members do a lot of work in schools around the country on human trafficking and we see that once people understand how the purchasing of certain products can keep people in poverty and at risk of being trafficked, they too want to bring about change and join in actions and campaigns,” Sr Noelene said.

“For more than a decade ACRATH has campaigned to ensure slavery-free chocolate is more widely available in Australia. A lot of the chocolate eaten in Australia is made with cocoa beans picked by enslaved or exploited children. This is just one example of how we can slavery-proof a supply chain by making all chocolate slavery-free.”

The in-service follows Archbishop Fisher’s February announcement of plans to begin slavery-proofing the Sydney Archdiocese’s procurement practices and relationships.

“If we dedicate ourselves to the task, we could indeed see slavery effectively abolished in our own lifetime … The greatest responsibility [to end slavery] lies with organisations such as business, governments, and churches because they have such great purchasing power … buying good [instead],” Archbishop Fisher said.

The in-service will cover:

  • What is human trafficking and slavery in the modern world
  • Human trafficking in Australia
  • The impact of human trafficking
  • Australia’s civic and government response to human trafficking
  • How to use ACRATH’s education resources on human trafficking

Sr Noelene said Professor Burn who works directly with survivors of human trafficking is well placed to give teachers an understanding of what happens to someone trafficked into Australia and the variety of ways they are forced to work, including in hospitality, farms, brothels, homes and construction sites.

“The human cost of modern slavery is extraordinary and once people understand this, they are moved to respond, and to try an eliminate slavery,” she said.

The Sydney in-service follows several workshops in Catholic schools in Victoria and Western Australia last year. Two Catholic colleges in metropolitan Melbourne involved their entire staff of more than 200 teachers in the training in 2017.

If your school would like more information or to arrange an in-service contact ACRATH at

With thanks to ACRATH.

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