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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 3020


Mr BANDT (9:39 AM) —Today I table a petition of some 225,328 Australians who are urging the government to take action to combat child sex trafficking in our region. Sitting over there on a trolley in some eight boxes, the signatures on this petition have been collected by children protection advocates Child Wise and The Body Shop, and it represents one of the largest petitions ever to come before this parliament. To assist proceedings, I can inform the House that the petition has been examined by the Standing Committee on Petitions and is found to be in order.

I believe the government has a responsibility to protect the human rights of the most innocent and vulnerable in our region and to listen to those in the community who want to protect children from sexual exploitation. That is why I am very proud to table this petition on behalf of the many people who signed it, from 62 different electorates across the country.

Globally it is estimated that 1.2 million children and young people are trafficked every year for sexual exploitation and cheap labour. The estimated minimum number of persons in forced labour, including sexual exploitation, as a result of trafficking at any given time is 2.5 million. Of these, 1.4 million are in Asia and the Pacific, and yet only 0.1 per cent of Australia’s aid budget aims to tackle the issue. Australians have been identified as travelling sex offenders in at least 25 countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. There are some very simple steps, supported by these petitioners, that the government could take to address this situation.

The first is an ongoing education campaign and a support service that helps Australians to identify and report suspicions or concerns about child sex offenders who travel overseas. Child Wise recommends an initial outlay of $15 million over three years to fund such a program. The second is the funding of community based international development programs that focus on the prevention of and protection against child sexual exploitation, such as child sex trafficking and child sex tourism. Child Wise recommends an initial outlay of $7.5 million over three years. Those two steps are well within the resources of the government and I hope that the government listens to this call from the community to take action to help stop child sex trafficking. I commend the petition to the House.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—The honourable member has presented the petition for approval by the Petitions Committee. As I understand it, it has been approved and the petition is received pursuant to standing order 207(b)(ii).

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of Australian citizens draws to the attention of the House, the criminal activity and human rights abuse of child trafficking into the commercial sex Industry which takes place in our region. Australian sex offenders contribute towards the demand for these children to be trafficked. We therefore ask the House to:

1.   Fund an ongoing education campaign and support service which helps Australians to identify and report suspicions or concerns about child sex offenders who travel overseas.

2.   Fund community-based, international development programs which focus on the prevention of and protection against forms of child sexual exploitation such as child sex trafficking and child sex tourism.

from 225,328 citizens

Petition received.