It is a sobering fact that, right now, in the 21st century, many of our fellow human beings experience human trafficking and slavery.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that in 2012, at least 20.9 million people around the world were trapped in forced labour, of which 9.1 million people had been trafficked. Remarkably, according to the ILO more than half of these victims were in the Asia-Pacific region.
These statistics are grim, and when confronted with numbers on such a large scale it is easy to lose sight of the individual. Each number represents a man, woman or child who has lost their safety, freedom and dignity. These figures represent abuse of human rights on an enormous scale.
Australia is not untouched by this crime, however it is uncommon here. This is fortunate because the impacts of human trafficking and slavery are significant. The effect on victims particularly is inherently traumatic and can be lifelong.
It is for this reason that the Australian Government continues to implement a strong program of initiatives to prevent and address human trafficking and slavery, both at home and abroad.
These initiatives are founded on the following equally important principles: to prevent and deter human trafficking and slavery; to detect, investigate and prosecute offenders; and to provide support to trafficked people, including by protecting their human rights.
The Australian Government remains equally committed to working in partnership with other governments and international organisations, and with civil society. These are crimes of concern to all, and everyone in our community has a part to play in addressing them.
The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19 details the work being undertaken by the Australian Government to combat these crimes. It sets the strategic aims of Australia’s whole-of-community response to human trafficking and slavery over the coming five years, and includes measures to quantify the impact and effectiveness of our collective efforts.