Assembly 2007: Being Neighbours in the Pacific
Media release issued: Wednesday, July 4
CRA's 180 members have pledged to "do what we can within our structures and ministries to promote justice and healing for victims of trafficking". The members have also agreed that CRA should take a "collective and public stance" against trafficking in women, children and men.
This gives formal CRA recognition to the work of ACRATH, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans, which has been supported by a substantial number of congregations, individually.
The decisions were taken at the CRA 2007 Assembly: Being Neighbours in the Pacific held in Perth, WA (June 26-29).
Since May 2005, a National Religious Congregations' Anti-Trafficking Working Group has operated to raise awareness about the issue, to provide support for the women rescued from slavery and to work towards visa reform. This group also works collaboratively with, and in support of, other networks involved in this area of Trafficking in Persons, especially in women and children.
At last year's assembly (2006) in Adelaide, CRA members helped bring the plight of this modern-day slavery into sharp focus with a public rally.
ACRATH Coordinator Sr Pauline Coll SGS says that Australia is considered a "high"-ranked destination for trafficking in persons, while our neighbour, New Zealand, is considered "medium". Mostly women are the victims while the number of minors is less and there are no references to men and boys as victims of trafficking in this region. Trafficking in Australia is primarily, but not exclusively, for sexual exploitation.
"Trafficking exists in almost all countries of the world," Sr Pauline said.
"It is estimated that between 700,000 and two million people are trafficked into the sex industry, forced labour, domestic labour, for marriage or for body organs, each year. Clandestine in nature yet highly profitable, it is an evil in our own communities that must be publicly worked against."
In a report to the CRA 2007 Assembly, Sr Pauline said that during the past 12 months, ACRATH had continued to work in education, awareness raising, advocacy and lobbying, networking and collaborating with various groups, both religious and civil, nationally and internationally.
Catholic Religious Australia is the peak body for 180 religious orders in Australia, representing more than 8000 religious sisters, brothers and priests.