The Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) hosted a vibrant Bollywood themed fundraising dinner on Saturday 10 August in the Aranmore Catholic Primary School hall as part of its ongoing efforts to stand up against human trafficking.
ACRATH this year marks 10 years and counting of its dedicated work in Western Australia.
Present in support of the cause were 200 attendees consisting of ACRATH members, clergy, religious sisters, agency representatives, and friends of the organisation. The event managed to raise more than $7350 through the sales from the event tickets, food, and raffle draw.
In her welcome speech, ACRATH WA Coordinator Kathy Fagan thanked those who generously contributed to the success of the event, making special mention to Aranmore Principal Jonnine Lamborne for sponsoring the venue, and students of Chisolm Catholic College for volunteering their time to assist throughout the event.
“According to the International Labor Organisation, there are over 40 million people enslaved in the world today,” Kathy stated.
“It happens in every country in the world, it happens in Australia, it happens in our own city of Perth, in our suburbs, it happens in our own backyard.
“We need to be aware and we need to know the indicators of human trafficking and what we can do,” she added.
Kathy cited works closely with the Australian Federal Police, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Border Force, Dept of Communities, Multicultural Centres, Women’s Council, the Humanitarian Group, and Anti-Slavery Australia among others and has played an instrumental role in the formation of the WA Forced Marriage Network.
She went on to explain that apart from advocating at local and federal level for the rights of trafficked people, the agency works directly with survivors.
“We work with survivors in WA through our companionship program. We recently helped a person returning to his home country to fill in documents at the Perth airport, as he left, to help him claim for unpaid wages and to claim compensation.
“He was one of 22 men from Vanuatu who were brought to Australia through the Government led Seasonal Workers program,” she said.
“They arrived on the farm in Queensland with great expectations, but were housed in sub-standard conditions and were not paid.”
Kathy added that ACRATH continues to ensure that labour hire firms have to be registered in all States and Territories.
“Can you imagine having been trafficked to a country where you do not speak the language well, if at all, you may have no friends or relatives and have little, if any, trust in humanity?” she queried.
“We stand by their side, assist them to navigate the systems and hold space with them as they recover.”
“It is a privilege to be a small part of their recovery and we are there for the long haul,” she concluded.
The ACRATH team confirmed they are currently looking at hosting a seminar to raise more awareness on human trafficking, what it is, how to identify the crime and how one can help.
If you suspect human trafficking you can call to report or discuss a concern with the AFP on 131 237. If you think the person is in imminent danger call 000.
This article first appeared in The Record on 15 Aug 2019 and is republished with permission.
By Amanda Murthy