Anti-trafficking office opens in Western Australia
From left: Rosa Ranieri, Christine Carolan, and Dr Terry Wilson cut the celebratory cake for the new Perth ACRATH office. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
“Every human being – man, woman, girl and boy – is made in God’s image.” – Pope Francis
Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) has this week officially opened its new Perth base to further its work nationally.
Guests were given an insight into the agency’s new surroundings at Newman Siena Centre in Doubleview on 29 October.
The office has been provided by the Archdiocese of Perth and will be staffed by ACRATH volunteers.
ACRATH is continuing its anti-trafficking programs and advocacy, despite losing $125,000 Federal Government funding in June.
Following the funding blow, ACRATH launched a national fundraising campaign and has been overwhelmed with the response.
Kathy Fagan, ACRATH Regional Coordinator for WA, has developed strong international networks over the years that are called on when a trafficked person is being repatriated.
Sr Catherine O’Connor leads the opening prayer on Monday 29 October. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
Network members help people to reintegrate back into their community or support them to rebuild their life when they cannot return to their community or family.
Ms Fagan explained to The eRecord how she has worked with trafficked women and children in Asia, particularly in Thailand and Cambodia, and began volunteering with ACRATH when she returned to Australia.
“Before I left, I asked the women in Thailand and Cambodia what they needed. They said, ‘never forget us and tell people what is happening to us’,” Ms Fagan said.
“The opening of the Perth office is another way of ensuring the voices of trafficked women will be heard.”
Deacon Gregory Lowe blessed a small Cross for the office at the launch on 29 October.
Christine Carolan, ACRATH National Executive Officer, said: “ACRATH’s anti-trafficking work, particularly our work to eliminate forced marriage, has been driven in WA by our volunteers”.
“Some schools in the state with vulnerable population groups have participated in forced marriage teacher training and awareness raising sessions for students, particularly young women. More sessions are planned for next year,” she added.
Ms Carolan said the Perth volunteers were some of the early pioneers of the anti-trafficking movement in the state, helping set up the WA Freedom Network, which looks at human trafficking issues.
“We know the problem. We now know what to do about it.”
ACRATH’s anti-trafficking work has also benefited from the keen support of people in WA.
Earlier this year, a fundraising Thai banquet was held at Seton Catholic College and attracted 130 guests. It was also a chance to raise awareness of modern-day slavery in Australia.