Launch of Australia’s International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery

  • Transcript, E&OE

MINISTER BISHOP Goodmorning. I am pleased to be here with my colleague Peter Dutton, the AustralianMinister for Immigration and Border Protection, to launch Australia'sInternational Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery.

For most ofus, the familiar images of slavery in our minds are mired in the past. Theycome with a feeling of revulsion that is only eased by a sense that thispractice is a relic of history. But it is not.

The Walk FreeFoundation estimates that 35.8 million people are trapped in modern slavery,including through trafficking and forced labour. The International LaborOrganization estimates that 21 million people are subject to forced labour,including sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. And more than half of thosevictims are in the Indo-Pacific region.

Humantrafficking and related exploitation generates an estimated US150 billiondollars in illicit profit in any one year. This is a criminal activity of a massive scale. This is a shocking stainon the modern world.

Humantrafficking and slavery are not archaic practices of the past. No country isimmune. Every country across the globe is affected by human trafficking - aspoints of origin, transit or destination for victims.

Many of us donot realise the extent of the tragedy taking place across the world and in ourown region. This is one of the reasons that I am launching Australia'sInternational Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery. More peopleneed to understand the extent of the suffering caused by these terrible crimes.
And we needto understand that it is a transnational issue. This is why our response isinternational.

Theinitiatives under this strategy complement our domestic National Action Plan toCombat Human Trafficking and Slavery:

We plan tofight these crimes in several ways.

First, wewill focus our efforts on working with countries in our region.

We will buildour cooperation with police forces in South East Asia, in prevention, detectionand prosecution.

We willbetter share information and cooperate in investigations.

We willcontinue to build legal and law enforcement capacity through our flagshipcriminal justice program, the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking inPersons.

This is SouthEast Asia's largest single dedicated anti-trafficking investment: $50 millionover five years.

Second, wewill urge countries to work more closely with the multilateral institutionsdealing with trafficking and slavery.

Countriesneed to leverage their capabilities by working more effectively with the UnitedNations Office of Drugs and Crime, the United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees, the International Organization for Migration and the InternationalLabor Organization.

Too fewcountries take advantage of the platforms provided by multinational agencies.

Third, wewill work within the Bali Process and its 48 members to drive greatercoordination in the region against human trafficking and slavery.

A key goalfor us will be to prevent these crimes through better access for people to safeand legal migration.

This willhelp those vulnerable migrant workers avoid the trap of trafficking, which sooften ends in slavery.

And it willenhance labour migration's contribution to the growth and development of ASEANcountries.

Australia hasprovided five years of assistance, which has helped around 62,000 migrantworkers to access legal advice and support.

Our new $20million program, which will be implemented by the ILO, will work withgovernments, employers, recruitment agencies, and civil society organizations,to reform migration policies and legislation, provide workers with legal andfinancial advice, and protect them from exploitation.
Fourth, andimportantly, we will work with business in ensuring good practices in theirsupply chains.

This isquickly becoming a commercial, as well as a moral, imperative.

Thosebusinesses that cannot show themselves to be free from forced labour willeventually be abandoned by their customers.
I havediscussed this problem with my colleague, Indonesian Foreign Minister RetnoMarsudi.

We will worktogether under the framework of the Bali Process so that we can develop agenuine partnership between governments and the private sector to combatslavery and trafficking in our region.

Fifth, wewill continue to advocate for victim protection. Too often this is the elementthat has least attention. Too often trafficking victims find themselves back indifficult circumstances of re-trafficking.

We supportnon-government organisations to provide services in different countries totrafficking victims.

We look togovernment agencies and other groups to reach the most vulnerable communities.

Finally, tosupport this strategy, the Australian 'Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues'will be redesignated the 'Ambassador for People Smuggling and HumanTrafficking'. And I acknowledge thepresence of Ambassador Andrew Goledzinowski here today.

This changereflects Australia's commitment to combatting human trafficking and slavery,and will give greater focus to Australia's international advocacy andengagement on this issue.

I encourageyou to take one of our booklets, which covers the detail of our strategy morecomprehensively. This issue must be addressed by the global community. It mustbe addressed now.


MINISTER DUTTON Julie,thank you very much. I am very pleased to be here today with Australia'sForeign Minister and I want to say all Australians should be proud of theannouncement that the Foreign Minister has made today. This is a significantissue within our region and the fact that we're able to work with partners withIndonesia across the region to stare down people traffickers and people who aretrading in human misery is a significant announcement. Australia has a policyto provide support across the region both in terms of aid but also in terms ofnumber of people that we've settled in Australia. In fact, we've settled over800,000 through the refugee and humanitarian program since the Second WorldWar.

Over thecourse of the last 12 months, and further back beyond that, Australian BorderForce has been able to make 71 referrals to the Australian Federal Police andagencies otherwise in Australia of suspected people-trafficking incidents andwe are working with our partners in the region to make sure that we canidentify further cases and provide support to people on the ground and toprosecute where possible The government has made a number of announcements inrecent times in relations to visa fraud. Stand-out visa fraud. And allAustralians want to support the movement of people across our borders, but wewant to do it in a way where people are presenting with legitimate reasons fortravel and people aren't being smuggled into Australia or smuggled across theregion for purposes that would be abhorrent to Australians. So I'm very proudof the work that has been done and the announcement that has been made today bythe Foreign Minister. But the work that we are doing with our partners[inaudible] biometrics in stamping out visa fraud making sure people aretravelling for their designated purpose [inaudible] because this is anincredibly important issue.

MINISTER BISHOP Thankyou. Given that we are all assembled here, we might take questions here ratherthan going outside where it is a little warmer. So if there are any questionson this launch or otherwise?

JOURNALIST AmandaHodge from The Australian. You mentioned that private industry, particularlyimportant in this. Are there any industries particularly in Australia where youwill be looking, you know, specifically on this issue, obviously in this partof the world it's fisheries – is that a concern in Australia also?

MINISTER BISHOP We are focused on supply chains andas I said, the source countries, the transit and destination of the victims. Sowe will be working with the private sector to ascertain which industries, whichareas of the economy are more likely to be affected than others and we'll workclosely with them to ensure that their supply chains for Australia businessesare free from forced labor, trafficking and domestic servitude

JOURNALIST Butisn't the whole point, Foreign Minister, that if you're using cheap labour,forced or otherwise, that it's best to keep that private, so who's going to bepolicing this?

MINISTER BISHOP Thereis already a considerable level of awareness amongst businesses that aresocially responsible and take their social responsibilities very seriously. TheWalk Free Foundation has considerable private sector support, and we've beenbuoyed by the level of interest and support from companies and sectors of theeconomy that want to ensure that their practices are world's best. Australiancorporations embrace best practice and this is one aspect that has for too longgone unaddressed around the world and we're finding that the private sector iskeen to be involved. And so we're harnessing that interest and working back upthe supply chains.

JOURNALIST Sothat actually means we'll be following supply chains back to areas where, let'ssay, we know that there is cheap labour or bonded labour, so that perhaps…

MINISTER BISHOP There is a difference between cheapand forced, and I think we'd better be careful with definitions. But we arefocusing on this as a global issue, working with the countries in our regionand beyond. This is not just an issue only for Australia - it's an issue forall countries. And we are particularlyfocussing on those with whom we have influence in our region. And the BaliProcess is an ideal framework given there are 48 member states, we will workclosely with them and with the multinational agencies to ensure that Australiacan help drive a global strategy to eradicate human trafficking andslavery.

JOURNALIST Sowill there also be a system of "dobbing in" companies that are sourcing fromforced labour industries?

MINISTER BISHOP Iunderstand what you mean by "dobbing in" but I don't believe that's part of ourstrategy in the sense that we haven't got a dob-in-a-business aspect to it. Butclearly businesses are concerned about their international reputation, they areconcerned about embracing best practice, they are concerned about perception ofmarkets and consumers, and we want to work with businesses to ensure thattogether we can help stamp out what is a scourge on our internationalcommunity.

JOURNALIST CanI ask Mr Dutton a question about airports? What are we doing to improvesecurity there? I understand that there is going to be some strike actionthreatened by the CPSU. What do you say to them?

MINISTER DUTTON WellI know that the CPSU has announced this morning that the strike action is to becalled off and we welcome that. Obviously I've had a number of discussions overthe course of the last few days with the Commissioner of the Australian BorderForced to make sure that we can cover any gaps if there was to be strikeaction. And in light of the circumstances in Brussels I think the CPSU has madethe right decision at a time when other countries across Europe, the UnitedStates and here in our own region are stepping up their efforts around airportsecurity. It would have been unconscionable for there to have been strikeaction at Australian airports, so I'm very grateful for the announcement that'sbeen made and obviously the work that's done in conjunction with ourcounter-terrorism unit officers at our international airports. It is veryimportant and even more so and I spoke to the Commissioner again this morning.There has been a lot of contact obviously between our intelligence and lawenforcement agencies and Australian Border Force to make sure we can keepAustralian airports secure and that is obviously an ongoing job and this threathas been around for a long period of time, it will be with us for a long periodof time; people seek to do harm to innocent men, women and children and we'veseen the tragedy unfold in Brussels overnight and Australian authorities aredoing everything in our capacity to make sure that we keep Australia safe.

JOURNALIST Whatthe last information on returnees that are coming back from Syria and Iraq andthe like [inaudible]. Do we know if these people are on their way or have come?

MINISTER DUTTON Obviouslywe don't talk about individual cases but there's a lot of work that goes onbetween the Foreign Affairs obviously Border Force and many of our agenciesotherwise, to individually look at these cases and make sure that they mitigatethreat wherever it may be presented and Australia, like other developednations, is concerned about the number of people and there are activitiesundertaken each day to make sure that we reduce that threat as [inaudible] manifestin the way that we've seen elsewhere in the world, and we're going all that wecan to keep Australians safe.

JOURNALIST MalcolmTurnbull has said that he is going to be having another chat with securityheads in Sydney this afternoon. I know that you are here. Will you be able tocall into that conversation or?

MINISTER BISHOP Igenerally make myself available wherever I am in the world for NationalSecurity Committee meetings and of course if I'm required, I'll be there, but Iwill be co-chairing the Bali Process throughout the day, returning to Australiatonight.

JOURNALIST Therewere a couple of horrific instances in our region last year. One was the Bay ofBengal and the Andaman Sea crisis where a whole lot of people died on thewaters because of human trafficking. And the other was instances in Indonesianfisheries where [inaudible] kept on boats as slaves. Did these instances – werethey catalysts for this strategy and how might this strategy help addresscrises like those we saw last year?

MINISTER BISHOP These incidents are in fact thesubject of some discussion today in the Bali Process, for they have led to areconsideration of the consultation methods of the Bali Process, how memberstates can become more involved more effectively, more quickly in some of theunfolding tragedies. And of course this strategy that I announced today withPeter Dutton, is designed to address some of the instances of human traffickingand the tragedies that have evolved from that. And it comes down to a muchhigher level of cooperation between countries, between agencies. And within theframework of the Bali Process we will be able to address some of thesechallenges before they do result in such tragedies.

JOURNALIST InJuly last year in the ASEAN Summit there were similar recommendations that weremade about greater cooperation between law enforcements in the region.Something that UNODC has said is that although these recommendations were made,there were not actually concrete actions put in place to ensure thatcooperation did occur. Are you able tooutline anything, in terms of, law enforcement cooperation that you will beputting in place to ensure that that does occur?

MINISTER BISHOP Thefact that Australia is taking the lead on this issue and putting our name to astrategy and driving the agenda from our perspective we believe that we give asharper focus to efforts.

I've outlinedthe five areas that we'll be focusing upon – there's greater detail in thebooklet of course. But I believe that the programs, the funding and theinvestment will be in place, the resources that we'll be applying to this,including through our law enforcement agencies and cooperation that we areseeing increase – there's a much higher tempo of engagement – will result insome better outcomes. So we will obviously give progress report from time to timeabout how effective we think our strategy is being. We need to, as the bookletsays, amplify our impact and do more in directing outcomes that lead to aneradication of human trafficking and slavery.

JOURNALIST Indonesiahas made it clear that it would like Australia to take more migrants strandedin Indonesia [inaudible] rescued from the sea last year. What's going to be thereply of Australia to Indonesia?

MINISTER BISHOP Well,I take issue with that. In fact Indonesia has asked all countries in themembership of the Bali Process to consider doing more in relation to those whoare deemed to be genuine refugees. Australia has one of the most significanthumanitarian refugee programs in the world, in fact I believe we are the thirdhighest in terms of taking refugees and as the Immigration Minister has said,since the Second World War we've settled over 800,000 under the humanitarianrefugee visa category. We have taken about 2,000 people from Indonesia over thelast few years, who have been deemed to be refugees. We take 13,750 each yearunder our program, which will expand to about 18,750 over the next few years.In addition, we have made places for 12,000 Syrian refugees who are seekingasylum as a result of the conflict. We have provided $19 million over two yearsto Indonesia through the IOM to support people who've claimed refugee statushere in Indonesia. So Australia is already playing a significant role and weurge other countries to do similarly.

OK, thankyou.

Media enquiries