The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. The Australian Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery continued to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, while the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Branch within the Australian Border Force led the government’s domestic response to trafficking. In December 2020, the government finalized and launched its updated five-year national action plan (NAP) to combat trafficking. During the drafting of the NAP, the government invited public consultation on its development and held workshops with community stakeholders. The NAP focused on five national strategic priorities and continued to fund research projects and civil society organizations; facilitate awareness sessions for the public, government agencies, and civil society groups; and train law enforcement and government officials. The government allocated 10.5 million Australian dollars ($8.11 million) to the implementation of the NAP. In addition to funding multiple research projects conducted by an academic institution, the government funded the institution to review the implementation of the previous NAP; this report was publicly available. In 2020, the government announced availability of almost 393,380 Australian dollars ($304,000) for four NGOs to implement community prevention programs in Australia, compared with 400,000 Australian dollars ($309,120) for the 2019-2020 period. NGOs implementing these programs focused on forced labor, migrant worker rights, and increasing trafficking awareness and community collaboration of anti-trafficking activities. The government, through the AFP, continued to operate a national hotline to report victims of trafficking.
The government established an interagency advisory group, which met four times in 2020, to provide strategic advice on the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act, which required businesses and entities with annual revenue of 98 million Australian dollars ($75.73 million) or greater to publish an annual modern slavery statement detailing their efforts to combat modern slavery in their supply chains and operations, among other provisions. In 2020, the government published its first Modern Slavery statement, in compliance with the act, and created a publicly available online registry of all submitted statements. The government posted more than 250 statements from businesses, covering nearly 500 entities operating in over 21 different industries on the registry during the reporting period, which was the first submission period under the act. The government disseminated three additional guidance documents, including on how the pandemic may increase supply chain risks to forced labor, to assist businesses with the implementation of the act’s requirements during the reporting period. In addition, the government participated in more than 50 educational engagements with businesses to support the understanding and completion of the act’s requirements. The Fair Work Ombudsman continued to prioritize prevention of potential labor exploitation—including human trafficking—amongst migrant workers, focusing on awareness in domestic workers and among international students.
In the previous reporting period, the government established a Migrant Workers’ Interagency Group to implement recommendations from the February 2019 Migrant Workers Taskforce Report. One recommendation from the report was to create a national Labour Hire Registration Scheme to require recruitment agencies in designated high-risk industries to register with the government and employers to use only these registered agencies. While this recommendation had still not been implemented nationally at the close of the reporting period, similar registration schemes had been implemented in Queensland and South Australia in 2018, Victoria in 2019, and the Australian Capital Territory in 2021. An NGO reported concern that the government did not effectively monitor and enforce labor laws in rural parts of Australia, heightening risks of forced labor. Domestic workers within Australia—especially in the state of Western Australia, those lacking a contract, or residing within diplomatic households—remained extremely vulnerable to exploitation due to the lack of clear protective oversight mechanisms relevant to these populations. However, in the previous reporting period, an NGO reported that Western Australia authorities began reviewing its industrial relations framework to consider including domestic work in the definition of “employee” to bring such work under state regulation; the government did not report an update to this definition change.
The government continued to make efforts to reduce the demand for participation in international sex tourism of its citizens. It did so by continuing to publish materials for passport applicants outlining the application of Australian child sex trafficking laws to Australians overseas. The government cancelled 64 passports and denied five to registered child sex offenders during the reporting period, which was the second year these authorities were implemented. In addition, authorities provided 100 notifications to foreign law enforcement regarding traveling Australian child sex offenders. The government reported pandemic restrictions reduced the overall number of individuals leaving the country and, therefore, reduced the number of notifications and cancelled or denied passports for this reporting period. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts within Australia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided pre-departure training to diplomatic personnel in compliance with Australia’s anti-trafficking legislation, and Home Affairs distributed a training package to its overseas staff and visa service providers. The government continued to work with international governments by engaging in anti-trafficking dialogue, conducting trainings, and sharing technical assistance.