Under the federal government’s Support for Trafficked People Program, exploited sex workers can receive medical and psychological help, living allowances and accommodation but only if they assist police in shutting down the illegal trafficking trade.
A Foreign sex worker being put to work illegally in Australia is in danger by laws that say government support services can only be accessed by helping police bust sex traffickers.
Anti-trafficking groups have slammed the program, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the legislation only serves to put the victims and their families in harm’s way.
Prof. Jennifer Burn, director of Anti-Slavery Australia, said ” ruthless” trafficking syndicates would show no remorse to sex workers who assist the authorities.
She said victims are often hesitant to help police for fear they will not be adequately protected by the authorities.
“There are some people who have been trafficked who haven’t been able to make a contribution to the police and prosecutors and, therefore, are not entitled to protection,” she said on Wednesday.
“We think that is a definite gap. I’m really worried about it. I want the law and the policy to change.
“We would like to see a visa system that provides recognition of the experience of trafficking, and the undue harm that could be caused by a decision not to provide protection through an appropriate trafficking visa.”
One former worker told the ABC the program was not doing enough to ensure the safety, meaning others were hesitant to speak out to police about the illegal syndicates.
She said the program she risked her life for had not been able to meet the basic needs of rebuilding a life in Australia.
I don’t want money or Centrelink (Australia’s welfare scheme), I only need a job to support myself. But they didn’t do anything,” she told the ABC.
“I was for three years looking for a job and gave the resume everywhere, and nothing.”
The victims, predominately hailing from South East Asian nations, are often tricked into becoming sex workers. Often they are brought to Australia under the guise of working in a different industry.
Burn said this was a loophole exploited by syndicates, on visa papers, workers are said to be students or have jobs in other fields.
“We’ve seen that there have been plenty of cases of people holding proper visas and still being exploited here,” Burn said. Enditem
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