Archived News Item

Religious lobby Canberra politicians about human trafficking

A group of twelve women from Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) went to Canberra from October 16-19 to tackle the issue of trafficking in humans. The group met with numerous politicians and committees to raise awareness of and brief them about human trafficking.


The group has three aims:

  • To raise awareness about Human Trafficking.

  • To discuss with the Federal Government the need to implement a new visa framework for people who have been trafficked. The group wants a new visa framework with a human rights basis. At the moment a visa to stay in Australia and all the services that follow are only available to people who are able and willing to assist with prosecutions.

  • To lobby the Federal Government to implement the United Nations CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) Committee’s recommendations relating to trafficking, particularly to provide support to every trafficked woman (see                          

ACRATH issued every federal MP with an information pack on Trafficking in Humans with a view to organising a meeting with members of ACRATH. The information pack contained information about trafficking, a letter to Prime Minister John Howard from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, a summary of a paper for the United Nations and CEDAW committee and relevant recommendations to the Australian government about trafficking.


Meetings were held with over thirty politicians including:

  • Senator Chris Ellision (Minister for Justice and Customs)

  • Attorney General Philip Ruddock (Attorney General)

  • Shadow Minister Kevin Rudd (Foreign Affairs and International Security, Shadow Minister for Trade)

  • Shadow Minister Tony Burke ALP (Shadow Minister for Immigration)

  • Senator Lyn Allison (Leader of the Democrats)

  • Status of Women ALP Committee

  • Social Policy ALP Committee

  • Senator Andrew Bartlett (Deputy Leader of the Democrats)

  • Ms Tanya Plibersek, ALP (Federal Member for Sydney)

  • Ms Janelle Dubern (Advisor to Senator Natasha Stott Despoja)

  • Senator Amanda Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs)

  • Ms Helen Georgopoulos (Senior Advisor to PM on Transport/Resources/Environment/Women)

  • Ms Simone Burford (Senior Advisor to PM on Communications/Legal)

Media releases issued each day during the visit included:

Many of the Religious Orders represented in the Lobbying Group were founded to care for people on the margins. This lobbying visit to Canberra carries on these strong traditions of standing with the poor or vulnerable.


Catholic Sisters: new relationship with the government on Human Trafficking.


The group, which as of September 8 represents 43 religious congregations and Catholic Religious Australia (formerly ACLRI), now has two offices, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, and has galvanised support from the community.


Chair of ACRATH Committee: Sister Pauline Coll SGS (02) 9745 9700


From: Sister Carmel Heagerty RSM (Melbourne Congregation)