Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices are a global problem. While the global scale of the issue is difficult to measure, the International Organization for Migration has stated that as many as 800 000 people may be trafficked across international borders annually.
An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of human trafficking. A large number of countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination country.
Australia is committed to combating this issue domestically, regionally and internationally.
Australia has ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol). Australia is actively engaged in the fight against human trafficking with other countries in our region and beyond.
We participate in international forums such as the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review process, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the UNTOC Conference of Parties, to better address and prevent trafficking.
Australia works collaboratively with other countries to combat human trafficking. For example, Australia and Indonesia co-chair the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. Australia's aid program also supports a number of aid projects in the Asia region, including the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons. More information can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
Australia's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19
Australia's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19 provides the strategic framework for Australia's response to human trafficking and slavery. The plan was developed with government and non-government partners, and was launched by the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, on 2 December 2014.
Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery
The Attorney-General’s Department is committed to building strong partnerships and chairs the Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery (IDC). The IDC comprises eleven agencies that provide oversight of Australia's response to human trafficking:
- Attorney-General's Department
- Australian Crime Commission
- Australian Federal Police
- Australian Institute of Criminology
- Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
- Department of Employment
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (which includes the former Australian Agency for International Development)
- Department of Immigration and Border Protection
- Department of Social Services
- Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Fair Work Ombudsman.
The IDC tables an annual report in the Parliament which details its activities. The following reports contain the Australian Government response for the specified period:
Supply Chains Working Group
In 2014, the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, announced the formation of a Supply Chains Working Group. The working group comprises experts from government, business, industry, civil society, unions and academia.
The purpose of the working group is to examine ways to address serious forms of labour exploitation in the supply chains of goods and services. This includes slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude and forced labour.
The first phase of the working group's response is expected to be completed by mid-2015.
Australia's Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery—Whole-of-Government Performance Management Reporting
In 2008–09, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) undertook an audit of the management of the Australian Government's Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The ANAO report recommended that the IDC improve the way that progress is reviewed and how the results of the strategy are measured. As a result, the Australian Government developed a whole-of-government performance framework, which created a way to make reasonable estimates of the scale of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices in Australia.
The first data report on Australia's Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery strategy covers the period from the implementation of the strategy in January 2004 until 30 June 2010. Subsequent reports are issued on a six-monthly basis:
Changes to Australia's Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery—July 2009
In 2009, the then Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, and Minister for Status of Women announced changes to Australia's anti-human trafficking strategy to provide a more flexible framework to support trafficked people and their families.
A fact sheet on the changes to the strategy is available for download in six languages:
Back to top