Many of Australia’s largest Catholic health care providers will gather across three cities today to hear how they can "slavery-proof" their supply chains and better treat people who have been trafficked. Source: ACRATH.
St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) and Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) joined forces last year in a ground-breaking project to change the way hospitals treat trafficked people and how to slavery proof the goods and services they use.
The model will be explored today with other health care providers who are keen to explore anti-trafficking possibilities. Some hospitals have already developed anti-trafficking policies and procedures and they will also discuss what they have achieved to date.
At least 10 major health care providers will participate in the human trafficking open meeting at SVHA in Melbourne. Some will participate via video link-up in Sydney and Brisbane.
ACRATH’s Executive Officer Christine Carolan said the participants in the meeting showed that Catholic health care providers were serious about justice issues and ensuring that prevention of human trafficking was a priority.
“We can be a mighty force for justice if we work together on this,” Ms Carolan said.
The SVHA and ACRATH project, now in its second phase, is looking at how trafficked people – who may present at any of SVHA’s health care facilities Australia-wide – can be identified and receive necessary treatment, support, referrals and access to services.
This includes women who have been sexually exploited, people facing forced marriage and people who have experienced forced labour.
The project is also working to ensure that goods and services procured by St Vincent’s Health Australia are slavery-free and that staff are aware of issues around human trafficking.
“This open meeting will give us the chance to lead people through the process and show how it can be done,” Ms Carolan said
According to the Trafficking in Persons – Australian Government Response 2015-2016 report, the Australian Federal Police received 691 referrals relating to human trafficking and slavery-related offences between 2004 and 30 June 2016.
“International research has shown that 85 per cent of trafficked people who accessed a health care service were not identified as having been trafficked,” said Lisa McDonald, group mission leader at SVH.
“This research is telling us that trafficked people are largely invisible in the health system. That will change.”