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July 27, 2023 - No Comments!

Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind

"Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind" - World Day Against Trafficking in Person, 2023 Theme

Child trafficking is a complex issue. Fueled by the demands of perpetrators, who pay to exploit children, it's only by learning what child trafficking is, and raising awareness about it, that we can work together to protect children and prevent this terrible crime from happening. At its core, child trafficking is a failure to protect the rights of the most vulnerable children in our society. 

There is a lot of information online about what child trafficking is and is not, but one of the biggest inhibitors for Australians, who are trying to learn and understand the complexities surrounding this crime in our own country, rests on the fact that we have our own definition of child trafficking that differs from most other countries. 

In Australia, it’s fair to say that most people see the topic of child trafficking as an “overseas problem”. We never see reports of it. It’s not vocabulary that’s used in reference to Australian children so if it’s not defined, talked about, or seen then that must mean… it doesn’t exist, right? 

Sadly, that’s just not the case. We believe that there are children in Australia facing circumstances where they are being sold, exploited or trafficked. Desperately in need of assistance, their situations remain largely invisible or misidentified, because of Australia's ‘unique’ definition and restrictive law impacting domestic child trafficking victims

According to the UN, ‘leaving people behind means’ failing to end the exploitation of trafficking victims, failing to support victim-survivors once they are free from their traffickers, and leaving identifiable groups vulnerable to traffickers. 

In order for Australia to ‘leave no one behind’ we must make it a priority to firstly admit and identify that we (like every other country in the world) have a problem with child trafficking. This can not be ignored! It will be impossible to reach every victim of (child) trafficking if we keep saying, “there are none”. 

ZOE Australia CEO recently stated, “The ZOE team in Australia has spent the last 18 months specifically focused on the issue of child trafficking within Australia. Our team has read research papers and reports, met with a range of experts and stakeholders, been a part of forums and held many meetings. We have heard from experts, social workers, NGOs, case workers and many people who are supporting vulnerable children through kinship, foster care, residential care and other out of home care models. Meeting after meeting we hear anecdotal stories of children being used by another adult, a ‘third party’ to commercially sexually exploit them. The child is often given something in return, accommodation, drugs, vapes or money. Our own research tells of real life stories from court documents, where children have been commercially exploited. There is no question that if these cases were in the USA or Thailand, they would be classed as child trafficking."

There is a key difference between the United Nations definition and Australia’s ‘unique’ definition of trafficking. The main variation is that Australia’s definition has a reliance on ‘movement.' We believe that if the reliance of movement is NOT changed in the criminal code to come inline with the UN definition then we, as Australians, can  not reach every victim of trafficking and we are leaving victims behind - arguably those who need us most. 

Children in Australia being trafficked remain largely invisible. 

Australia has faced international criticism, with the United States Government recommending in their 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report that Australia ‘ensure the statutory definition of trafficking under the criminal code does not require movement of the victim as an element of the crime'.

If Australia was to adopt the international definition into the Criminal Code to include recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbour or receipt of person then this would allow the prosecutor to look at other elements and not rely solely on movement. 

We believe that child trafficking doesn't always involve physically taking children to a different location. While the term "trafficking" may give the impression of transportation, child trafficking can also occur within the same area or even within a child's own community.

So given the restrictive definition, there is very limited information and data on the prevalence of domestic child trafficking.

Note: In Australia, the term 'modern slavery' is often used to include; trafficking in persons, slavery, slavery-like practices and the worst forms of child labour.  

Small Steps Forward

In 2022, we were pleased to hear that the Attorney-General's Department initiated a Targeted Review of the sections within the Australian Criminal Code that pertains to the definition of human trafficking. ZOE made a submission as part of this review, detailing cases and voicing our concern about the restrictive nature of the law in Australia.

It is our hope that with both increased awareness and law reform, that Australia's response will be to reach all individuals (including children) making sure they are not overlooked, ignored or left behind. Every victim of trafficking should be protected, and provided with the support that they need to restore their dignity and help them rebuild their lives. 

We look forward to seeing a more inclusive and proactive approach to child trafficking in Australia that reaches each victim of this heinous crime and leaves no child unnoticed or unsupported.
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January 30, 2022 - No Comments!

To Do or Not to Do, That is the Question

So often when people hear about child trafficking for the first time, their disbelief is followed by the question, ‘What can I do?’ 

I have asked this question too, and whilst this seems like a practical response, maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is not only, ‘What can I do?’ but ‘Who can I be?’

When we ask what we can DO and there is no clear, straightforward, easy or immediate answer then the problem gets put into the “too hard”, “disbelief” or the “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” basket. 

And we end up finding something else to ‘do’ with our time. 

I would like to propose that if we made a commitment to developing who we want to ‘be’ - then the ‘doing’ part will follow naturally. 

We set goals in accordance with our values. For example, if I value being fit, I will make goals to go running or workout at the gym regularly during the week. 

If I value fairness, child safety, freedom… then I respond through my choices and actions. In response, I set goals to shop ethically, research before I purchase and learn about challenging situations where people are manipulated, exploited or controlled. I make decisions about what to ‘do’ underpinned by my values. 

Who I am impacts what I value, and what I ‘do’ is displayed in the way I live by those values. 

So what’s the answer to the question, What can I do to end child trafficking? I believe that will be determined by who you want to be! 

As each of us work towards becoming the person we want to be, our actions will follow! 

I want to be:

An influencer. I will use my voice to share what I know about child trafficking and make a positive difference in the world.

A conscious consumer. I will use the information available to make the most informed purchasing decisions I can.

An educator. I will understand and be able to explain to others what child trafficking is and how we have a shared responsibility to see it ended in our generation. 

An awareness raiser. I will use my sphere of influence to encourage others to be aware of the problem of child trafficking and challenge them to respond in a personal way.   

A volunteer. I will use my skills and talents to serve in any capacity needed to support and enhance the goals of the organisation

A child’s rights advocate. I will promote and defend children’s right to protection because of their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. I will do everything I can so that children can grow up in a safe, healthy and positive environment.

A pray-er.  I will be quick to pray. I am moved by compassion and show love to the best of my ability, putting the needs of others above my own desires.

A donor.  I will use my finances to support and enhance the goal of ending child trafficking.

A supporter. I will promote the resources, curriculums and tools available to my circle of influence as well as attend as many events, updates and fundraisers that I am able to. 

Want to get in touch? You can email one of our team at: 

November 15, 2021 - No Comments!

A Conscious Christmas

-5 ways Christmas giving can be different this year-

Recently, during one of our online updates, we learnt that Australians were expected to spend around $18 billion on Christmas shopping. We also discovered that there would be about $1 billion in unwanted gifts given. That’s like - approximately 7.3 million Australians receiving gifts that they will never use, or wear, this Christmas! (The Australia Institute, 2019)

I don’t know about you but for our team at ZOE, the driver to become more conscious consumers is to prevent, and end, child labour in industries like the clothing/garment industry, makeup, agriculture (food, coffee), homewares and electrical goods. But we also feel that the environmental and health factors are huge drivers for change too.     

In our last blog post, Reconciling Our Consumer Habits in the light of Child Labour, we wrote that Australians are connected to the issue of child labour through the products that they consume. “When we want our products to be free of child labour, but don’t take any consumer action, we tell our suppliers that as long as it is accessible and affordable, we will buy it.” 

Or as Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” 

So how do we develop a more conscious attitude this Christmas in light of what we know about child labour, the waste factor, our budgets, and the expectations of our families and friends?  And how do we give a gift that will be treasured rather than wasted? It feels like a lot to juggle all those things!

As we mentioned in the last blog, there are tools available to assist us. There are ethical shopping apps such as ‘Good on You,’ ‘End Poverty,’ ‘Sweat and Toil’ and ‘Shop Ethical’ available for download. But there are other creative alternatives to curb our shopping habits too such as buying less, buying second-hand, reusing existing Christmas decorations rather than buying new ones, and considering what the people we’re giving to already have.

This quote speaks volumes to this topic, “This is not about being a Grinch, canceling Christmas or trying to pass a minimalist purity test. It’s about breaking out of a consumer mind-set that demands we constantly buy things — things that we then must care for and eventually dispose of.” (Annaliese Griffin, How to Buy Nothing New This Holiday Gifting Season, The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2021)

Using an online audience interaction platform at our last online update, we asked participants to contribute some of their creative ideas to be more conscious as we all step into the Christmas season.  We’re hoping that these suggestions will help equip you with some fresh ways to be more conscious as you plan your Christmas giving this year. And as ACRATH reminds us it’s about, “Placing the person at the centre of our Christmas shopping” because it is our actions and spending that impacts workers all around the world.

Idea #1

Make it a challenge*. Just like Annaliese Griffin says in, ‘How to Buy Nothing New This Holiday Gifting Season’, “Every year my husband and I set a holiday challenge for each other: Find a gift at the local thrift store, something delightful that is a reflection of our individual aesthetics or obsessions.” 

*And how about trying not to buy any new wrapping paper this year either. Reuse wrapping paper and cards, and get creative using fabric or other materials to wrap gifts.

Idea #2

Buy a plant, or something ‘living’. For people who love nature, gardening and flowers, there are Australian businesses that help to sustain people, land and culture through the propagation of native plants.

Idea #3

Support 100% Australian owned businesses. Find out about buying from local producers. Share with your family when you find ethical brands that have positive social impact.

Idea #4

Give a voucher (to cook a meal, babysit, mow the lawn, garden make-over, Op-shop voucher

etc.) Or make a home-made/ handmade gift. 

Idea #5

Give an experience (movie vouchers, day outing, restaurant, theatre tickets etc.) Or make a donation on behalf of a person to a cause you know they support.

It may take a little more effort on our behalf to get started, but when we truly care about the people who make our gifts - and the ones who we’re gifting them to - then it’s totally worth it. 

Remember that this is a journey. Developing a more conscious attitude towards purchasing at Christmas takes us from a place of ‘not knowing’ anything about what we’re buying, where it comes from, or who made it … and moves us towards ‘good’, ‘better’ and then ‘best’ choices. 

Let’s accept that it’s not about getting it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but more about using our awareness, and the information available, to make the most informed decisions we can - knowing that no one has all the answers on this topic to tell us exactly what we should do.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a conscious consumer, keep a lookout for our NEW upcoming course in 2022!