ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) has launched a national appeal 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 teachers and health workers who were trained by ACRATH. 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.
- 22 men from Vanuatu, forced into labour in Australia, who returned home penniless five years ago, are closer to receiving compensation because ACRATH volunteers 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.
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.”