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Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade—Joint Standing Committee—Advocating for the elimination of child and forced marriage: Interim report for the inquiry into certain aspects of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade annual report 2019-20—Report, December 2021


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December 2021 CANBERRA

PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

Advocating for the elimination of child and forced marriage

Interim report for the inquiry into certain aspects of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2019-20

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

© Commonwealth of Australia

ISBN 978-1-76092-335-8 (Printed Version)

ISBN 978-1-76092-336-5 (HTML Version)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

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ttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/au/.

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Chair’s Foreword

The tenet that marriage should only be entered into with the free and full consent of both parties has been reiterated across human rights treaties over time, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, the world is not on track to eliminate child and forced marriage by 2030, as committed by nations as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Through this inquiry, the Committee learnt of the work undertaken by the Australian Government on child and forced marriage in recent years, situated as it is among broader human trafficking and modern slavery issues. This an issue that has been viewed from several perspectives, with a role for the Australian Government to:

 work directly with other countries to provide assistance in the elimination of child and forced marriage;  raise awareness and ensure that the issue is kept on the agenda across multilateral forums and bodies, including the United Nations; and  respond to cases of child and forced marriage with Australia, and those

affecting Australians when overseas.

Assistance to make progress on the issues that underlie child and forced marriage practices is also needed. The Committee has heard through contributions to its inquiry that open community dialogue, education and women’s empowerment can shift social norms and create environments that discourage the practice.

The Committee was grateful for the informed advice that was provided to it in submissions and hearings from NGOs that are operating in this area. The Committee thanks Anti-Slavery Australia, ACRATH and Walk Free for their valuable contributions.

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The Committee also thanks the Australian Government officials for their contribution to the Committee’s work. While the Committee has focused on the international advocacy that Australia undertakes, child and forced marriage is an issue that involves a wide range of government departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Federal Police, Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force.

The Hon Kevin Andrews MP Chair Human Rights Sub-Committee

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Table of Contents

Chair’s Foreword .............................................................................................................................. iii

Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade .............. ix

Members - Human Rights Sub-Committee .................................................................................. xi

Secretariat ........................................................................................................................................ xiii

Abbreviations ................................................................................................................................... xv

List of Recommendations ............................................................................................................. xvii

The Report

1 Overview ................................................................................................................... 1

Previous committee inquiries and reports ......................................................................... 3

Report structure ..................................................................................................................... 3

2 Child and forced marriage ..................................................................................... 5

Prevalence of child and forced marriage ........................................................................... 6

Global prevalence statistics ..................................................................................... 7

Australian prevalence statistics .............................................................................. 9

Australian legal framework ............................................................................................... 10

Criminal Code Act 1995 ......................................................................................... 11

Modern Slavery Act 2018 ....................................................................................... 12

Family Law Act 1975 .............................................................................................. 14

Marriage Act 1961 .................................................................................................. 14

Enforcement ............................................................................................................. 15

vi

International legal framework and norms ....................................................................... 16

Concluding comment ......................................................................................................... 18

3 National action plans and strategies .................................................................. 21

National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025 ........................................ 22

National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031 ..................... 24

Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery ................ 24

International Working Group on Human Trafficking and Slavery ................. 25

National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery ............................................ 26

International Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery ............................ 26

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy 2016 ..................................... 28

Concluding comment ......................................................................................................... 28

4 Addressing drivers of child and forced marriage ........................................... 31

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic .................................................................................. 32

Education and economic empowerment ......................................................................... 33

Women’s participation and political involvement ......................................................... 37

Supporting legal and justice sector responses ................................................................. 38

Dominant cultural practices, and working with faith-based communities ................ 39

Working with community organisations ......................................................................... 41

Concluding comment ......................................................................................................... 43

5 Australian Government support ........................................................................ 45

Support for Australians when overseas ........................................................................... 46

Repatriation challenges .......................................................................................... 47

Programs delivered by non-government organisations ................................................ 49

Support for Trafficked People Program .............................................................. 49

My Blue Sky ............................................................................................................. 50

Challenges experienced by those facing child or forced marriage ............................... 51

Parental consent issues ........................................................................................... 52

Financial pressures and vulnerabilities ............................................................. 52

Migration and visa matters ................................................................................... 53

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Concluding comment ......................................................................................................... 57

6 Advocacy by the Australian Government in multilateral fora ..................... 59

United Nations (UN) .......................................................................................................... 60

Commonwealth ................................................................................................................... 61

Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime ........................................................................................................................ 62

ASEAN ................................................................................................................................. 63

International models under consideration ..................................................................... 64

Child and forced marriage clauses in trade agreements ............................................... 66

Concluding comment ......................................................................................................... 67

Appendix A. Submissions .............................................................................................. 69

Appendix B. Exhibits ....................................................................................................... 71

Appendix C. Hearings...................................................................................................... 73

List of Tables

Table 2.1 Number and prevalence of persons in forced marriage, by sex, age and region ...................................................................................................... 8

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Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Chair

Senator the Hon David Fawcett LP, SA

Deputy Chair

Ms Meryl Swanson MP Paterson, NSW

Members

Hon Steve Irons MP Swan, WA

Senator Jim Molan AO DSC LP, NSW

Mr Gavin Pearce MP Braddon, TAS

Senator Janet Rice AG, VIC

Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP Hunter, NSW

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz LP, TAS

Senator Tim Ayres ALP, NSW

Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells LP, NSW

Senator Kimberley Kitching ALP, VIC

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Senator Malarndirri McCarthy ALP, NT

Senator Sam McMahon CLP, NT

Senator Deborah O’Neill ALP, NSW

Senator Tony Sheldon ALP, NSW

Senator Mehreen Faruqi AG, NSW

Hon Kevin Andrews MP Menzies, VIC

Mr Vince Connelly MP Stirling, WA

Hon Damian Drum MP Nicholls, VIC

Mr Patrick Gorman MP Perth, WA

Mr Chris Hayes MP Fowler, NSW

Mr Julian Hill MP Bruce, VIC

Mr Peter Khalil MP Wills, VIC

Mr Ted O’Brien MP Fairfax, QLD

Mr Tony Pasin MP Barker, SA

Mr Dave Sharma MP Wentworth, NSW

Hon Warren Snowdon MP Lingiari, NT

Mr Phillip Thompson OAM MP Herbert, QLD

Mr Ross Vasta MP Bonner, QLD

Mr Andrew Wallace MP (to 24 November 2021) Fisher, QLD

Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP Calwell, VIC

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Members - Human Rights Sub-Committee

Chair

Hon Kevin Andrews MP Menzies, VIC

Deputy Chair

Mr Chris Hayes MP Fowler, NSW

Members

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz LP, TAS

Senator the Hon David Fawcett (ex officio) LP, SA

Mr Julian Hill MP Bruce, VIC

Mr Peter Khalil MP Wills, VIC

Senator Kimberley Kitching ALP, VIC

Senator Janet Rice AG, VIC

Ms Meryl Swanson MP (ex officio) Paterson, NSW

Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP Calwell, VIC

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Secretariat

Ms Julia Morris, Committee Secretary

Mr Andrew Dawson, Inquiry Secretary

Mrs Jenny Berget, Senior Research Officer (to 20 August 2021)

Mr Raqeeb Bhuyan, Senior Research Officer

Ms Philippa Clark, Researcher (from 27 September 2021)

Mr Francis Corcoran, Researcher

Mrs Dorota Cooley, Office Manager

Ms Alex Grimes, Administrative Support Officer (to 24 September 2021)

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Abbreviations

ABF Australian Border Force

ACRATH Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans

ACTIP ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

AFP Australian Federal Police

AGD Attorney-General’s Department

ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations

BVF Bridging Visa F

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

CRC Convention on the Rights of Child

DFAT Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

EU European Union

GDP Gross Domestic Product

HRC Human Rights Council

HTVF Human Trafficking Visa Framework

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IDC Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery

ILO International Labour Organization

IP-JuSP Indo-Pacific Justice and Security Program

JSCFADT Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

LALD Look a Little Deeper

NGO Non-government organisation

NSW New South Wales

ODA Official Development Assistance

OHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

RSV Referred Stay Visa

SDG Sustainable Development Goals

STPP Support for Trafficked People Program

UK United Kingdom

UN United Nations

UNFPA United Nations Population Fund

UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund

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List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

2.64 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government support efforts to collect gender-disaggregated data on the prevalence of child and forced marriage globally.

Recommendation 2

2.65 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government improve the publication of data on the child and forced marriage rates within Australia, and in particular improve communication of this data to non-government organisations supporting individuals in, or at risk of, child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 3

4.59 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government include support for initiatives to eliminate child and forced marriage as part of Australia’s aid program.

Recommendation 4

4.60 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues to support efforts to improve education outcomes for women and girls, particularly in regions with high rates of child and forced marriage.

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Recommendation 5

4.61 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues to enhance its engagement with community and faith-based groups both in Australia and globally to hold dialogues and support work in shifting social norms in relation to child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 6

5.56 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government identify opportunities to improve communication channels with key civil society organisations, including leading a multi-stakeholder group of government and key civil society organisations to develop a repatriation protocol that enables prompt and streamlined assistance to Australians overseas that are in, or at risk of, child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 7

5.57 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues and enhances funding to NGOs to counter child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 8

6.42 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government maintains Australia’s commitment as a regional and international leader by conducting targeted and careful advocacy of efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking and slavery, including child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 9

6.43 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues and enhances its engagement in bilateral and multilateral dialogues to eliminate child and forced marriage.

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1. Overview

1.1 The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) on 24 February 2021 resolved to inquire into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Annual Report 2019-20. This has enabled the Committee and its Sub-Committees to explore various issues using a relatively concise approach. As part of this inquiry, the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the JSCFADT agreed to canvass matters relating to Australia’s strategy and advocacy to eliminate child and forced marriage.

1.2 This report does not provide a comprehensive examination of child and forced marriage matters. Instead, the report focuses on the advocacy work being undertaken by the Australian Government to eliminate child and forced marriage practices.

1.3 Global commitments have been made towards the elimination of child and forced marriage practices as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Committee in commencing this inquiry activity announced that it was seeking to better understand ‘how combatting child and forced marriage can be a targeted, coordinated and effective focus of Australia’s international development strategy and programs.’1

1.4 Through examining these matters, the Committee received some information on Australia’s domestic legal framework, and the support provided by government and civil society organisations to individuals at risk of being in, or facing, child and forced marriage situations.

1.5 The Committee understands that child and forced marriage cases are sensitive to resolve, with each case presenting vastly different circumstances

1 Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT), Media Release,

13 May 2021.

2 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

due to the personal family and relationship dynamics involved. The Committee also understands that additional complexity is introduced due to the cross-jurisdictional challenges that can arise when multiple nations are involved, which may not be easily resolved.

1.6 On Thursday 13 May 2021, the Committee called for submissions, and invited expressions of interest to appear at a public hearing. The Committee posed the following questions to guide discussion at the public hearing:

1 How does Australia currently engage internationally to promote the elimination of child and forced marriage?

2 What additional steps can Australia take to advocate for the elimination of child and forced marriage? For example, by:

a. engaging with international institutions and likeminded countries;

b. cooperating with non-government organisations;

c. bilateral engagement or other diplomatic activities; and

d. other appropriate means.

1.7 The Committee received 7 submissions and 11 exhibits to the inquiry. These documents are listed in Appendix A and B respectively.

1.8 The Committee held public hearings on 18 June 2021 and 25 August 2021. Witnesses appearing at these hearings are listed in Appendix C.

1.9 At the 18 June 2021 hearing, the Committee heard from government and civil society organisations. There is a large range of government departments that have responsibility or provide input on child and forced marriage matters. The Committee heard from representatives of these departments in a roundtable format, and learned about the role each department plays.

1.10 The Committee also heard at its 18 June 2021 hearing from experts and representatives from non-government organisations who research, advocate and provide support for victim-survivors. The Committee was pleased to learn about the range of engaged actors that are active in this space.

1.11 The Committee heard further from the Australian Border Force at the 25 August 2021 hearing.

OVERVIEW 3

Previous committee inquiries and reports

1.12 The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, as well as other parliamentary committees have previously undertaken inquiries exploring modern slavery, human trafficking or family violence matters where child and forced marriage has been discussed.

1.13 While not canvassing each of the inquiry’s recommendations, or the nature or detail of government responses, the Committee understands that the issues relating to child and forced marriage remain a subject of national and international interest and advocacy. This suggests that more work can be done; the Committee was therefore interested in hearing views from key stakeholders on these issues specifically.

1.14 A selection of these inquiries is listed below:

 April 2021 - Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence - House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs (no government response to date);  December 2017 - Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

- Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (government response tabled 19 October 2020);  July 2017 - Inquiry into human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices - Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (government

response tabled 19 October 2020); and  December 2015 - Inquiry into human rights issues confronting women and girls in the Indian Ocean - Asia Pacific region - Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (government response tabled

10 April 2017).

Report structure

1.15 By way of introducing discussion of this issue, Chapter 2 and 3 describe background and contextual material that was received by the Committee. Chapter 2 provides an overview of child and forced marriage. This includes broad definitions, prevalence of child and forced marriage both globally and in Australia. It also includes a discussion of domestic and international legal frameworks to address child and forced marriage practices.

1.16 Chapter 3 discusses the policy framework established by the Australian Government to respond to child and forced marriage, including the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025.

4 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

1.17 Chapter 4 discusses the drivers of child and forced marriage, and the work of changing social norms to prevent child and forced marriage. This includes consideration of how these drivers have informed initiatives including the provision of official development assistance by the Australian Government to other nations. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated many of these underlying issues.

1.18 Chapter 5 outlines the assistance and services provided to Australian citizens and permanent residents overseas. This details the work of key programs run by civil society organisations, as well as DFAT’s consular operations and the AFP’s policing operations to assist those experiencing child and forced marriage situations across national borders.

1.19 Chapter 6 reviews the advocacy undertaken by the Australian Government in multilateral forums to progress the elimination of child and forced marriage practices. Alignment on approach across nations is key to coordinated multilateral advocacy, and evidence received on international approaches is also discussed in this chapter.

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2. Child and forced marriage

2.1 To provide background to the discussion on Australia’s international advocacy on child and forced marriage issues, this chapter sets out evidence that the Committee received about the prevalence of child and forced marriage both within Australian and globally, as well as the domestic and international legal frameworks to respond to child and forced marriage.

2.2 There are varying definitions of child and forced marriage used across domestic and international contexts, with a range of phrases in use including ‘early marriage’, ‘child marriage’ and ‘forced marriage’. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) summarised that ‘forced marriage occurs where a person, regardless of age, is forced to marry without their consent, and is distinguished from arranged or sham marriages that arise with the consent of both parties.’1 DFAT also explained that ‘child marriage is considered forced marriage given the absence of full, free and informed consent.’2

2.3 DFAT elaborated that ‘forced marriages come about through physical, emotional or financial duress, deception, use of force, threats or severe pressure’3, and stated:

Once forced to marry, many victims are at a greater risk of being subjected to other forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and other forms of forced labour, and health issues, particularly in cases of early marriage.4

1 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Submission 6, p. 3.

2 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

3 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

4 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

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2.4 Further context on Australian cases of child and forced marriage was provided by the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) and Anti-Slavery Australia. ACRATH stated it ‘has been working on the issue of forced marriage since 2008’ and had identified the following issues occurring in Australia:

1 Young women are brought to Australia to marry and discover on arrival in Australia that the marriage they are entering into is not what they had agreed to.

2 Young women who are taken to their parents’ country of origin to marry against their will.

3 Young women, often citizens or with Australian permanent residency, who are forced to marry in Australia.5

2.5 Anti-Slavery Australia stated:

We might have people that are forced to marry and then sponsor a partner from overseas to come over to Australia. That is something that we see. We do see exchange of finances as well, which does work to complicate people’s situation. Often there is some kind of dowry or financial exchange between the families. In our experience as well, once that exchange occurs, it is immensely difficult for that person to be able to retract from the marriage.6

Prevalence of child and forced marriage

2.6 Inquiry participants highlighted work that estimates the prevalence of child and forced marriage both in Australia and globally. Walk Free observed that ‘forced marriage occurs in every part of the world, including right here in Australia.’7

2.7 Australia’s commitment to the collection of gender-disaggregated data was described by Walk Free to lead to a strengthening of ‘the capacity to collect, analyse, and make policy decisions based on evidence.’8

5 Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Submission 3, p. 3.

6 Ms Sandeep Dhillon, Lawyer, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney, Committee

Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 18.

7 Ms Grace Forrest, Founding Director, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 10.

8 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 8.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 7

Global prevalence statistics

2.8 DFAT stated that ‘the 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery prepared by the International Labour Organization - based on data captured from surveys - estimated 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage globally, of those 84 per cent were women, and one third were under 18 years when married.’9

2.9 The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery was produced in 2017 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and the UN International Organization for Migration.10 Walk Free outlined that this ‘data suggests forced marriage is most prevalent in Africa (4.8 per 1,000 people), followed by Asia and the Pacific (2.0 victims per 1,000 people).’11

2.10 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) produces regular estimates of child marriage rates.12 Walk Free stated that UNICEF ‘estimates that globally, around 21 per cent of young women were married before their 18th birthday.’13

2.11 Table 2.1 describes the number and prevalence of various categories of persons in forced marriage.

9 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

10 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 4; International Labour Organization and Walk Free, Global Estimates of

Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, 2017, p. 4.

11 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 4.

12 UNICEF, ‘Child Marriage’, https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/, viewed

6 October 2021.

13 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 4.

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Table 2.1 Number and prevalence of persons in forced marriage, by sex, age and region

Category Number (000s) Prevalence (per

1,000 persons)

World World 15,442 2.1

Sex Male 2,442 0.6

Female 13,000 3.5

Age grouping Adults 9,762 1.9

Children 5,679 2.5

Region Africa 5,820 4.8

Americas 670 0.7

Arab States 170 1.1

Asia and the Pacific

8,440 2.0

Europe and Central Asia

340 1.1

Source: International Labour Organization and Walk Free, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, 2017, p. 43.

2.12 Prevalence estimates of forced marriage, ‘due to limitations of the methodology and data … are considered to be conservative’ by the ILO and Walk Free in the Global Estimates report.14 Walk Free explained in its submission that ‘data gaps exist in key regions, particularly in the Arab States due to an inability to adequately survey forms of modern slavery that predominantly affect women and girls.’15

2.13 Concerns about trends of forced marriage over time were raised by Family Planning NSW, which stated ‘if change does not accelerate, 1.2 billion

14 International Labour Organization and Walk Free, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour

and Forced Marriage, 2017, p. 21.

15 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 4.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 9

women alive in 2050 will have been a child bride - which is akin to the entire population of India.’16

2.14 However, UNICEF has observed that over the past decade, ‘the prevalence of child marriage is decreasing globally with the most progress in the past decade seen in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by more than a third, from nearly 50 per cent to 30 per cent.’17

2.15 DFAT stated that ‘the ILO is scheduled to issue a new Global Estimates of Modern Slavery in 2021’, and expects that this new report will reflect an increased rate of forced marriage due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.18

Australian prevalence statistics

2.16 The Australian Government in its National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery states that in the period from July 2015 to June 2017, the Australian Institute of Criminology and Walk Free ‘estimated that there were up to 1,900 victims and survivors of modern slavery in Australia.’19 However, it is ‘estimated that for every victim and survivor detected by authorities in Australia, four remain undetected.’20

2.17 Family Planning NSW stated that in Australia ‘the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre estimates 250 cases have occurred since 2012. Experts assert that this number is likely underreported.21‘ Family Planning NSW caveated that the publicly available Australian data is limited:

… there is very little information on the prevalence of child forced marriage in Australia, and no publicly available government data on child forced marriage in Australia.22

2.18 Reports of forced marriage to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are a key source of data. The AFP observed that forced marriage ‘reports generally increase annually, however, it is unclear whether this is the result of

16 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 1.

17 UNICEF, ‘Child Marriage’, https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/, viewed

6 October 2021.

18 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

19 Australian Government, National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25, p. 13.

20 Australian Government, National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25, p. 13.

21 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 1.

22 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 1.

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increased offending, or increased awareness that forced marriage is a crime.’23

2.19 ‘Partly attributed to COVID’, the AFP stated it has ‘seen a slight reduction in the number of reports’ in the current year. The AFP stated that ‘to date, to June’ 2021 it has ‘received 74 reports or allegations of forced marriage compared to the previous year.’24 The AFP elaborated:

We believe that there are a number of environmental factors in addition to COVID. How we become aware of a potential forced marriage is often through schools, doctors and the like. We believe that the restrictions due to COVID—particularly with schools—have contributed to some of the reduction in the numbers that we’ve seen this year.25

2.20 The AFP stated that it ‘found that the most vulnerable victims of forced marriage were females between the ages of 15 and 19.’ The AFP further elaborated on the trends seen in reports it has received:

For the year 2019-20, of those reports coming through to the Australian Federal Police about trafficking related offences, forced marriage reports made up 41 per cent. Fifty-one per cent of forced marriage reports were victims under the age of 18 and 70 per cent related to offshore marriages.26

Australian legal framework

2.21 The domestic legal framework for child and forced marriage was described in the evidence received, providing insight into the regulatory approach that has been taken by the Australian Government, as well as legislative activity that has been undertaken in recent years. There are several pieces of legislation that intersect with child and forced marriage issues, including the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth), Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

2.22 The Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force (ABF) advised that the ‘the Australian Government has comprehensively criminalised

23 Australian Federal Police (AFP), Submission 7, p. 4.

24 Ms Lesa Gale, Assistant Commissioner Northern Command, Australian Federal Police (AFP),

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

25 Ms Gale, AFP, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

26 Ms Gale, AFP, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 11

forced marriage in the Criminal Code Act 1995. The term forced marriage is defined in Australian law to include child marriage’27, and stated:

Under Australian law a forced marriage occurs when a person is married without freely and full consenting, because: they have been coerced, threatened or deceived; they are incapable of understanding the nature and effect of a marriage; or the person was under the age of 16 when married.28

Criminal Code Act 1995

2.23 Following legislative amendments to define forced marriage in 201329, section 270.7A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) states:

A marriage is a forced marriage if:

(a) either party to the marriage (the victim) entered into the marriage without freely and fully consenting: (i) because of the use of coercion, threat or deception; or (ii) because the victim was incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony; or

(b) when the marriage was entered into, either party to the marriage (the victim) was under 16.30

2.24 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated ‘it is an offence to both cause a person to enter into a forced marriage and to be a party to a forced marriage’31:

The offences apply to legally recognised marriages, registered relationships and cultural or religious ceremonies. They carry a maximum penalty of up to nine years’ imprisonment. If a child is taken overseas for the purposes of forced marriage, this may also constitute a trafficking in children offence, which is punishable by up to 25 years’ imprisonment. 32

2.25 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated ‘Australia’s forced marriage offences have extended geographical jurisdiction and can therefore apply where the conduct occurred in Australia, or where the conduct occurred

27 Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force (ABF), Submission 4, pp. 3-4.

28 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, pp. 3-4.

29Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Act 2013 (Cth),

s12.

30Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 270.7A.

31 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 4.

32 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 4.

12 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

outside Australia and the offender was an Australian corporation, citizen or permanent resident.’33

Modern Slavery Act 2018

2.26 The Modern Slavery Act was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in 2018. DFAT stated that ‘the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act (2018) established a national Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, which requires large businesses operating in Australia to report on the modern slavery risks in their supply chains and the actions they are taking to address those risks.’34

2.27 The Australian Border Force (ABF) advised that ‘the Modern Slavery Act defines eight different forms of modern slavery, so it includes slavery, servitude, forced marriage, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting, worst form of child labour and human trafficking.’35

2.28 DFAT outlined that ‘child and forced marriage is a complex issue that is rooted in gender inequality, poverty and lack of education and economic opportunities. Forced marriage can lead to, or be linked to, instances of forced labour - in the form of domestic servitude, as well as in industries that are a part of global supply chains.’36

2.29 The ABF stated that the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) ‘does not stand alone’ and ‘there are a number of pieces of legislation that provide that broad reach across the criminal activities, across the other areas of exploitation’ including the Criminal Code and the Migration Act.37

2.30 The ABF advised that the Modern Slavery Act ‘is due to be reviewed. It is legislated to have a review three years after commencement, which will occur as soon as practicable after January 2022.’38

2.31 Walk Free stated it does ‘believe there are gaps in [the Modern Slavery Act], and we welcome the review process.’39 Walk Free elaborated that there was a

33 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 4.

34 Ms Frances Finney PSM, Assistant Secretary Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, ABF,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 9.

35 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 9.

36 DFAT, Submission 6: 2, p. 1.

37 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 9.

38 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 9.

39 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 20.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 13

need to establish a Commonwealth-level antislavery commissioner, and expand the Act’s focus from ‘transparency’ to ‘remediation’:

We don’t believe there’s any reason why the federal government could not introduce an [antislavery commissioner] now. We believe there needs to be a federal one in order to make the act stronger and in order to make it more accessible to businesses. And we would love to see the model move from

simple transparency into remediation for best practice.40

2.32 At the state level, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) in June 2018. However, ‘the Act has not commenced and so its directions are not in force.’41

2.33 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia stated that ‘the New South Wales government has indicated that the act will be introduced back into parliament shortly.’ Anti-Slavery Australia stated that it understood that:

[The New South Wales Modern Slavery Act] will be amended and will be intended to harmonise more with the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act. Yet some parts of the New South Wales Modern Slavery Act will be retained in the amended version. I haven’t seen that bill, but the [New South Wales] government has said that it would include an antislavery commissioner.42

2.34 Walk Free compared the approach of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act to proposed European Union (EU) legislation, stating ‘from a legislative perspective, the human rights due diligence laws that are being tabled for the European Union go far beyond what the [Australian] Modern Slavery Act does and could be another key example of where regulations around trade can include far greater human rights visibility and accountability.’43

2.35 Regarding the ‘EU due diligence guidelines,’ DFAT commented that it is ‘well aware of and keeping apprised of [them] in terms of their development.’44

40 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 20.

41 NSW Government, ‘Modern Slavery’, https://www.nsw.gov.au/modern-slavery#the-nsw-modern-slavery-act, viewed 6 October 2021.

42 Professor Jennifer Burn, Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 19.

43 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 21.

44 Dr Mary Ellen Miller, Assistant Secretary, Human Rights Policy and Social Inclusion Branch, DFAT,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 22.

14 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Family Law Act 1975

2.36 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that protections for forced marriage in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) apply to those under the age of 18, but that state-based ‘apprehended violence type orders’ are ‘not a good fit’ for those vulnerable to forced marriage over the age of 18:

Currently there are protections within the Family Law Act that apply to people who are under the age of 18, but, over the age of 18, things become a lot more complicated. The Family Law Act doesn’t provide the protective jurisdiction there. If a vulnerable young adult over the age of 18 is seeking some kind of protection, the only avenue that she—and it is almost always she—will have is to try and apply for a state based domestic and family violence order. The problem with these orders is they’re not a good fit with forced marriage, and that is often because the kind of conduct that results in forced marriages is nuanced and complex … It is unlikely that a state-based apprehended violence type order would be granted in the absence of direct physical violence or stalking.45

Marriage Act 1961

2.37 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that ‘the legal age for marriage in Australia is 18’46, and advised that are some circumstances where marriage between for a person between 16 and 18 years of age may occur in Australia:

... the Marriage Act provides that judicial authorisation may be given in exceptional and unusual circumstances to a person who is domiciled in Australia and aged between 16 and 18 years, and seeks to marry another person who is over 18 years of age, if there is parental consent. It is otherwise an offence under the Marriage Act to marry a person not of marriageable age, and a penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment may apply.47

2.38 For marriages that have occurred overseas, the Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that ‘foreign marriages where either party is aged between 16-18 are also recognised in Australia in certain circumstances’48:

This may include, for example, an overseas marriage recognised by Australian law where both parties were at least 16 years old at time of marriage, the

45 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, 18 June 2021, Canberra, p. 19.

46 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

47 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

48 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 15

marriage was valid in the country in which it was solemnised, and neither party to the marriage was domiciled in Australia at the time of marriage.49

2.39 Concerns with the exceptions available for persons of 16 or 17 years of age to marry in Australia were raised by Walk Free:

While these [legislative] steps are significant, Australia has not yet addressed gaps in respect of child marriages. Specifically, Australia does not have a minimum age of marriage set at 18 years without exception. Currently, persons of 16 and 17 years of age can marry, subject to parental approval and the judge being satisfied that there the facts are “so exceptional and unusual as to justify” the marriage being approved.50

2.40 Anti-Slavery Australia also stated that ‘raising the marriageable age to 18’ within Australia ‘would positively impact on the prevalence of forced marriage.’51

Enforcement

2.41 The AFP stated that it ‘is focused on the prevention, disruption, and investigation of modern slavery and human trafficking practices - including forced marriage - and the protection and support of victims.’52 The AFP elaborated that it takes a ‘victim-centric approach in dealing with all human trafficking matters - including forced marriage’.53

2.42 ‘In human trafficking and slavery matters,’ the AFP stated it ‘considers disruption and intervention outcomes which result in the removal of victims from harm to be as significant an outcome as a successful prosecution.’54

2.43 The AFP stated that it ‘works collaboratively with domestic and international law enforcement partners, industry and non-government organisations (NGOs)’, and elaborated:

The AFP receives the majority of its reports of modern slavery and human trafficking matters from NGOs, schools, medical providers and members of the victim’s community. Reports can also come from witnesses of alleged

49 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

50 Walk Free, Submission 5, pp. 10-11.

51 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, 18 June 2021, p. 12.

52 AFP, Submission 7, p. 2.

53 AFP, Submission 7, p. 2.

54 AFP, Submission 7, p. 7.

16 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

offences, state and territory police services and other Commonwealth agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the ABF.55

2.44 ACRATH stated that ‘civil society working together with government is a good example of good practice’ and highlighted that ‘an example of that is the Federal Police had 93 referrals’ through civil society organisations ‘in a 12-month period from 2019 to 2020.’56

International legal framework and norms

2.45 Commitments to eliminate child and forced marriage have also been included in international treaties and agreements, setting out baseline norms and expectations globally. In particular, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 commits to ‘eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation’ by 2030.57

2.46 The inclusion of the elimination of child and forced marriage as a UN Sustainable Development Goal had led to regular reporting to countries to UNICEF on indicators of child and forced marriage.58

2.47 Certain international instruments were raised to the attention of the Committee by inquiry participants. Central international instruments that identify norms and principles relevant to child and forced marriage issues include the:

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948);  Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery (1956)  Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and

Registration of Marriages (1962);  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979);  Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1990); and

55 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

56 Sister Clare Condon, National Committee Member, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra,

18 June 2021, p. 14.

57 United Nations, ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’,

https://sdgs.un.org/2030agenda, viewed 9 November 2021.

58 United Nations Statistics Division ‘SDG Indicators’,

https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/?Text=&Goal=5&Target=5.3, viewed 9 November 2021.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 17

2.48 The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:

Men and women of full age, without limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.59

2.49 Walk Free stated that the 1956 Slavery Convention defines child and forced marriage ‘as practices “similar to slavery”‘.60 Article 1 of the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery 1956 obligates countries to take ‘all practicable and necessary legislative and other measures’ to bring about the abolition of institutions and practices that amount to forced marriage.61 Parties to the convention also committed in Article 2:

… to prescribe, where appropriate, suitable minimum ages of marriage, to encourage the use of facilities whereby the consent of both parties to a marriage may be freely expressed in the presence of a competent civil or religious authority, and to encourage the registration of marriages.62

2.50 The UN 1962 Convention on the Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriage, requires countries to take legislative action to specify a minimum age for marriage (with the non-binding recommendation of 15 years of age accompanying the Convention). Further, it determines that ‘no marriage shall be legally entered into by any person under this age, except where a competent authority has granted a dispensation as to age, for serious reasons, in the interest of the intending spouses’.63

59 United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights, viewed 9 November 2021.

60 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 16.

61 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Supplementary Convention on the

Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, 1956, pp. 1-2, www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/slaverytrade.pdf, viewed 19 April 2021.

62 OHCHR, Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and

Practices Similar to Slavery, 1956, pp. 1-2, viewed 19 April 2021.

63 OHCHR, Convention on the Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of

Marriage, 1962, p. 1, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/convention.pdf, viewed 9 November 2021.

18 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

2.51 There is a close link between forced marriage and child marriage. Family Planning NSW stated that ‘governments need to be accountable and responsible in protecting the rights of a child especially those who had signed up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.’64

2.52 While the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) does not directly address child marriage, it considers for the purposes of the convention, a child is ‘every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier’.65

2.53 Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) calls for men and women ‘to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent’66 and states that countries will recognise that:

The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.67

Concluding comment

2.54 The commitment to eliminate child and forced marriage by 2030 as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals has provided an international focus on the issue. The Committee heard that, while prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, positive progress had been recorded in the global elimination of child and forced marriage, the achievement of this goal remains in doubt.

2.55 The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed further in Chapter 4.

2.56 The Committee acknowledges evidence from Walk Free that the prevalence rates available are assumed to be underestimating the real rate of child and forced marriage globally, due to the challenges and inconsistencies in data collection and reporting.

64 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 1.

65 OHCHR, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, p. 2,

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf, viewed 9 November 2021.

66 OHCHR, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, p. 6,

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/cedaw.pdf, viewed 9 November 2021.

67 OHCHR, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, p. 7, viewed

9 November 2021.

CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 19

2.57 The Committee heard publicly available information for prevalence rates of child and forced marriage within Australia was limited. The Committee acknowledges that discerning whether a marriage has occurred without full and free consent is challenging, and this impacts the ability to collect data on forced marriage cases.

2.58 The categories of cases seen by non-government organisations operating in Australia provide a picture of what child and forced marriage looks like in Australia. It is an issue that affects both Australian permanent residents and citizens who may be taken overseas to marry against their will or coerced to marry in Australia; as well as women who migrate to Australia and find they are not in a marriage that they agreed to.

2.59 The Committee acknowledges that both the international and domestic legal frameworks situate child and forced marriage issues alongside modern slavery and human trafficking issues. However, the Committee also acknowledges that there are a number of sensitivities that distinguish child and forced marriage from other forms of human trafficking or slavery-like practices.

2.60 In recent years there has been legislative activity to revise the Australian Government’s approach to human trafficking and modern slavery, including child and forced marriage. The domestic legal framework highlights the role of the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force, both in Australia and outside of Australia in relation to monitoring and enforcement.

2.61 International norms are indicated by the set of treaties and agreements that have been made over the years. While there is variation between international jurisdictions in their approach to child marriage, such as the age where marriage will be recognised, a right to free and full consent in entering marriage has been asserted in international forums.

2.62 In addition to the work of civil society organisations in monitoring rates of child and forced marriage, the key international institutions administering treaties, such as the United Nations, indicate the avenues through which compliance checks and monitoring globally may occur.

2.63 While child and forced marriage is criminalised in Australia, inquiry participants raised concerns about the applicability and extent of protections available to those facing forced marriage situations. These concerns are discussed further in Chapters 5 and 6.

20 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Recommendation 1

2.64 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government support efforts to collect gender-disaggregated data on the prevalence of child and forced marriage globally.

Recommendation 2

2.65 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government improve the publication of data on the child and forced marriage rates within Australia, and in particular improve communication of this data to non-government organisations supporting individuals in, or at risk of, child and forced marriage.

21

3. National action plans and strategies

3.1 Australia’s international advocacy aims, as well as its domestic response, on child and forced marriage are outlined in a series of strategies and action plans. Situated among broader discussions about human trafficking, modern slavery and gender equality, the key plans and strategies detailing commitments on child and forced marriage produced by the Australian Government in recent years are the:

 National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025;  National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031;  Australia’s International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2016; and  Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy 2016.

3.2 The Australian Government first established a whole-of-government strategy to combat human trafficking and slavery in 2004, through its Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons.1 This has since been updated through subsequent national action plans in 2015 and 2020.

3.3 The range of government departments engaged on the issue was made evident to the Committee. The Committee heard about key bodies established by the Australian Government to coordinate across government, as well as to hear from stakeholders. For example, the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery functions as a key consultation mechanism for the Australian Government, with members of the roundtable including key stakeholder organisations.

1 Australian Government, Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons, 2004.

22 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

3.4 Walk Free stated that ‘despite these high-level commitments to ensuring child and forced marriage are addressed internationally, and particularly in the context of security, there are little other international advocacy plans that clearly address these issues.’2 Walk Free elaborated:

For example, child and forced marriage are not separately discussed as distinct focus areas in the 2019-20 Annual Report of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Rather, discussion is focused on the related but broader concepts of human trafficking, gender-based violence, child sexual exploitation, and family violence.3

National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025

3.5 In December 2020, the Australian Government released its National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025. The National Action Plan supports five ‘national strategic priorities’ to prevent; disrupt, investigate and prosecute modern slavery crimes; support and protect vulnerable individuals; and partner and research on modern slavery matters.4

3.6 Action items committing funding, practical support, research and international engagement on modern slavery issues, including forced marriage were identified by the Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force (ABF).5 The ABF further stated that action item 23 commits ‘to the development of a model for enhanced civil protections for people in, or at risk of forced marriage’:

Under action item 23 of the National Action Plan, the Government has committed to developing a model for enhanced civil protections and remedies for people in, or at risk of forced marriage. As part of consultations in this process, the Australian Border Force is working closely with civil society to identify risks and harms experienced by people in, or at risk of, forced marriage. These risks and harms include dowry abuse.6

2 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 6.

3 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 6.

4 Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force (ABF), Submission 4, p. 4.

5 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, pp. 4-5.

6 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 2.

NATIONAL ACTION PLANS AND STRATEGIES 23

3.7 The development of the National Action Plan was preceded by a review of the 2015-2019 National Action Plan by the Australian Institute of Criminology7, as well as a public consultation process led by the Department of Home Affairs.8

3.8 Anti-Slavery Australia commended ‘the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) efforts to combat modern slavery under the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25 and the International Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.’9

3.9 The Australian Border Force stated that it has ‘established a new National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25 grant program … Round one of the grant program opened on 10 March 2021 and closed on 15 April 2021’. The Department of Home Affairs/ABF further stated that ‘round one includes a stream focused on projects that support the Government’s objectives to combat forced marriage and to support and protect victims.’10

3.10 Since 2014, Australian Government grants have been awarded for forced marriage projects to the following organisations:

 Anti-Slavery Australia;  Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights;  Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking;  Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand; and  Taldumande Youth Services.11

3.11 The ABF stated that it would measure success through the achievement of outcomes, as well as through the formal monitoring and evaluation framework.12 The ABF elaborated on the commitment to ‘establish a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the National Action Plan to

7 Australian Institute of Criminology, Research Report 17: Review of the National Action Plan to Combat

Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19, 2020.

8 Department of Home Affairs, ‘National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25’, December

2020, https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/reports-and-publications/submissions-and-discussion-papers/combat-modern-slavery-2020-25, viewed 9 November 2021.

9 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 4.

10 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 2.

11 ABF, Submission 4: 1, pp. 2-3.

12 Ms Frances Finney PSM, Assistant Secretary Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, ABF,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 4.

24 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

enhance data collection and information sharing between government agencies, and with business and civil society organisations’13:

There’s a formal way through action item 40 of the national action plan, where the government’s funding a monitoring and evaluation framework with the [Australian Institute of Criminology]. They will be looking at to what extent the actions being taken by government are actually effective.14

National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031

3.12 In April 2021, the Australian Government released its second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031.15 In conjunction with the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security informs that the Australian Government’s approach is to seek progress on the following four outcomes:

 supporting women’s meaningful participation and needs in peace processes  reducing sexual and gender-based violence  supporting resilience, crisis, and security, law and justice efforts to meet

the needs and rights of all women and girls  demonstrating leadership and accountability for [Women, Peace and Security].16

Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery

3.13 Chaired by the Department of Home Affairs, the Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) on Human Trafficking and Slavery comprises eleven agencies that provide oversight of Australia’s response to human trafficking:

 Attorney-General’s Department  Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission  Australian Federal Police  Australian Institute of Criminology  Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

13 Australian Government, National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025, p. 31.

14 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 4.

15 Minister for Foreign Affairs, ‘Australia’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and

Security’, Media Release, 12 April 2021.

16 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), ‘Australia’s National Action Plan on Women,

Peace and Security 2021-2031’, https://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/australias-national-action-plan-on-women-peace-and-security-2021-2031, viewed 25 October 2021.

NATIONAL ACTION PLANS AND STRATEGIES 25

 Department of Jobs and Small Business  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade  Department of Home Affairs

 Department of Social Services  Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet  Fair Work Ombudsman

3.14 The IDC’s predecessor, the Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee was established in 2004.17 The current iteration was established in 2012-13.18 Its reports are available through the website of the Department of Home Affairs.19

3.15 The reports of the IDC include consideration of forced marriage issues, with the phrase ‘human trafficking and slavery’ used ‘as a general term that encompasses all human trafficking, slavery, and slavery-like offences in Divisions 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (Criminal Code).’20

3.16 The ninth report of the IDC was tabled in 2020, covering the period 2016-17, with the next report to cover ‘Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery throughout 2017-18 to 2019-20.’21

International Working Group on Human Trafficking and Slavery

3.17 The ninth report of the IDC describes the International Working Group on Human Trafficking and Slavery as driving and coordinating ‘the Government’s international efforts on human trafficking and slavery.’ The working group has ‘a flexible membership of Australian Government agencies’ and ‘meets approximately quarterly.’22

17 Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee, Trafficking in Persons: The Australian

Government Response, January 2004 - April 2009, 2009, p. iii.

18 Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery (IDC), Trafficking in Persons: The

Australian Government Response, 1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013, 2014, p. viii.

19 Department of Home Affairs, ‘Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25’, 14 October 2021, https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/our-portfolios/criminal-justice/people-smuggling-human-trafficking/human-trafficking, viewed 25 October 2021.

20 IDC, Trafficking in Persons: The Australian Government Response, 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017, 2020, p. 5.

21 IDC, Trafficking in Persons: The Australian Government Response, 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017, 2020, p. 4.

22 IDC, Trafficking in Persons: The Australian Government Response, 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017, 2020, p. 14.

26 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

3.18 The ABF advised that ‘the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade leads the whole-of-government International Working Group on Human Trafficking and Slavery.’23

National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery

3.19 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that ‘in 2008, the Government established the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery (the National Roundtable), which brings together civil society, business, unions, academia and the Australian Government departments responsible for combating human trafficking, slavery and slavery like practices, including forced marriage (collectively termed modern slavery).’24

3.20 The ABF identified the roundtable’s twice-yearly meetings as a key consultation mechanism on the development of Australia’s response to forced marriage.25 The ABF stated the National Roundtable ‘has been instrumental in advising government on the policy relating to forced marriage’ and ‘meets on a twice-yearly basis—at the ministerial level once a year and at the senior officials level once a year.’26

International Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

3.21 The Australian Government’s International Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery was released in March 2016.27 The strategy ‘uses “human trafficking and slavery” as an umbrella term for a wide range of exploitative practices. These encompass slavery-like practices, including servitude, forced labour, deceptive recruiting, debt bondage and forced marriage.’28

23 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 2.

24 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 4.

25 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 1.

26 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 1.

27 DFAT, ‘International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery’, 23 March 2016,

https://www.dfat.gov.au/news/news/Pages/australia-launches-international-strategy-to-combat-human-trafficking-and-slavery, viewed 8 November 2021.

28 Australian Government, Amplifying Our Impact: Australia’s International Strategy to Combat Human

Trafficking and Slavery, March 2016, p. 4.

NATIONAL ACTION PLANS AND STRATEGIES 27

3.22 Action item 38 of the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery promotes ‘effective and coordinated international and regional responses to modern slavery in line with the International Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.’29

3.23 DFAT stated that the ‘2016 International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery also speaks to the role of the Ambassador for Women and Girls’, now named ‘the Ambassador for Gender Equality’, in ‘advocating for gender equality in our region.’30

3.24 Walk Free in June 2021 noted the delays in finalising the revised version of the international strategy.31 Walk Free advocated that:

To effectively meet the stated goals of advancing women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women and girls, a clearer co-ordinated focus on child and forced marriage should be incorporated in the International Strategy, specifically as these issues undermine women and girl’s health, education, and income-earning ability across their lifetime.32

3.25 DFAT stated in August 2021 that the new ‘international strategy is at an advanced stage’ and is expected to be released before the end of 2021.33 DFAT elaborated on the impact of changes over the COVID-19 pandemic:

It is true that we undertook some public consultations earlier last year, and they concluded in around July. We found that the situation has changed significantly over the COVID-19 period, including exacerbating the situation, as has been described by other witnesses here today, for particularly forced and child marriage but across the modern slavery and human trafficking spectrum, which this strategy will cover. We wanted to ensure, because it is a five-year strategy, that we were taking that into account when putting that together, and we have done so. … we’ve got an advanced draft, which is actually in the process of consultation with other departments at this point in time. Once that has been concluded, it will be put to the minister. We look forward to the release of that strategy this year.34

29 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 5.

30 Ms Julie-Ann Guivarra, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Assistant Secretary Gender Equality

Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 3.

31 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 6.

32 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 6.

33 Ms Lucienne Manton, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, People Smuggling and Human

Trafficking Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 22.

34 Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 22.

28 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy 2016

3.26 The DFAT Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy was published in February 2016 and informs the Australian Government’s approach to the provision of official development assistance (ODA).35

3.27 DFAT stated that ‘the Australian government’s gender equality and women’s empowerment strategy of 2016 has a focus on three specific pillars which address some of the key drivers of [gender] inequalities.’36 DFAT elaborated:

The three pillars of the strategy are: enhancing women’s voices in decision-making, leadership and peace building; promoting women’s economic empowerment; and ending all forms of violence against women and girls. Under this strategy, the Australian government has taken a two-pronged approach supporting specific initiatives to promote gender equality as well as mainstreaming gender equality across all that we do in foreign policy, trade and development.37

Concluding comment

3.28 The Committee notes that the Australian Government has made a number of commitments on child and forced marriage matters. These commitments include consideration of enhanced civil protections and remedies, as well embedding advocacy on child and forced marriage among gender equality advocacy work generally.

3.29 While strict definitions of trafficking and modern slavery may not cover child and forced marriage, the Committee acknowledges that the Australian Government’s approach on human trafficking and modern slavery matters has been inclusive of child and forced marriage practices.

3.30 The Australian Government’s aid programming targeted at addressing the underlying drivers of child and forced marriage is discussed in Chapter 4. The Committee acknowledges that DFAT’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy informs the provision of official development assistance.

35 DFAT, Gender equality and women’s empowerment strategy, February 2016.

36 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

37 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

NATIONAL ACTION PLANS AND STRATEGIES 29

3.31 Child and forced marriage cases can cut across a range of government services, including consular, migration, policing, justice and social service supports. The Committee acknowledges evidence that the government has set up mechanisms to coordinate across the multitude of government agencies that provide input on human trafficking issues, for example through its Interdepartmental Committee.

3.32 The Committee also heard that the National Roundtable is a key consultation mechanism used by the Government to seek input from NGOs and other stakeholders on child and forced marriage matters.

3.33 The Committee acknowledges DFAT’s evidence that revised version of the International Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery will consider how to respond to issues that have been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is anticipated to be released before the end of 2021.

31

4. Addressing drivers of child and forced marriage

4.1 This chapter focuses on Australia’s bilateral work to further the elimination of child and forced marriage globally, particularly through the provision of official development assistance (ODA). Advocacy undertaken by the Australian Government in multilateral fora is discussed in Chapter 6.

4.2 The Committee heard that the delivery of official development assistance is informed by the drivers of child and forced marriage, by way of contributing to changing norms and primary prevention efforts. This chapter also provides a brief description of some of the drivers, as raised by inquiry participants.

4.3 In the Australian domestic context, the need to focus on addressing the drivers of child and forced marriage was acknowledged. The Australian Border Force (ABF) stated that ‘Australia has a very strong criminal framework around offences and criminal framework around practice but there is recognition that more needs to be done with respect to civil remedies and other avenues to try to prevent forced marriage from occurring in the first place.’1

4.4 The need to focus on primary prevention was also acknowledged in the global context. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated that its funding supports organisations whose ‘focus is advocacy at the community level to shift attitudes and identify those at risk of child and

1 Ms Frances Finney PSM, Assistant Secretary, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, Australian

Border Force (ABF), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 4.

32 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

forced marriage.’2 DFAT stated that globally there are a ‘multitude of drivers’ of child and forced marriage:

While many countries have prohibited or criminalised the practice, the child and forced marriage continues due to a multitude of drivers such as:

 poverty,

 dominant cultural practices,

 weak regulation or enforcement of existing laws,

 limited access for girls to education,

 limited opportunities for women’s political involvement, and

 limited human rights protections for women and girls.3

4.5 DFAT acknowledged that ‘direct engagement by a foreign government’ at the ‘intersection of culture, religion, and human rights’ presented by child and forced marriage issues ‘requires sensitive navigation of the local context and careful consideration of appropriate engagement, in particular with local civil society organisations.4

4.6 Family Planning NSW stated ‘the vast majority of policy measures that aim to address child forced marriage focus on prohibition, as opposed to prevention. While prohibition is essential given the significant human rights implications of child forced marriage, prevention is critical.’5

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

4.7 DFAT stated that ‘UNICEF predicts that the pandemic will lead to an additional 10 million child marriages over the next decade, as COVID-19 is exacerbating the five main drivers of child marriage which are: interrupted education, economic shocks, disrupted social services, pregnancy and the death of a parent.’6

4.8 DFAT released in May 2020 its Partnerships for Recovery strategy, which ‘sets out how the Australian overseas development program will tackle the

2 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Submission 6, p. 4.

3 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

4 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

5 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 2.

6 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 33

impacts of COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific.’7 DFAT elaborated that this strategy aims to address gender equality challenges:

According to UN Women and UNDP, an estimated 47 million women could drop below the poverty line as a result of this pandemic. … In recognition of the rising challenges for women and girls in particular, the [Partnerships for Recovery] strategy has gender equality as a cross-cutting objective.8

4.9 DFAT highlighted the example of pandemic impacts in Bangladesh, where ‘gender-based violence has also increased among married adolescent girls (35 per cent) during the COVID-19 imposed lockdown compared to their unmarried peers (16 per cent).’9

4.10 Anti-Slavery Australia identified that:

COVID-19 has seen the closure of international borders, caps on international arrivals, increasing prices and decreased availability of flights, and the need to pay for quarantine costs upon returning to Australia. This is compounded by lockdowns in countries individuals are located in, further restricting their ability to leave situations of danger.10

4.11 Countries with a high rate of child forced and marriage were identified by the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) as ‘countries that are struggling with structural poverty.’ ACRATH stated its belief that ‘COVID is going to exacerbate that rather than relieve it.’11

4.12 Walk Free stated that ‘the gains made in educating girls and reducing risk of child marriages over the last decade have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as prolonged school closures makes the prospect of child marriage more attractive the longer children are out of school.’12

7 Ms Julie-Ann Guivarra, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Assistant Secretary Gender Equality

Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

8 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

9 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

10 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, pp. 5-6.

11 Sister Clare Condon, National Committee Member, Australian Catholic Religious Against

Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 15.

12 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 10.

34 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Education and economic empowerment

4.13 Inquiry participants emphasised that improved education rates are correlated with a reduction of risk of child and forced marriage. Inquiry participants also spoke about the value of specific education curricula in teaching young adults about their sexual and reproductive health rights.

4.14 DFAT stated that improved access to education increases the age at which girls marry, and increases the likelihood that girls ‘choose their partner’ and ‘marry closer in age.’13 DFAT also identified that ‘girls with fewer than seven years’ schooling are more likely to be married by age 18.’14

4.15 DFAT also stated that ‘investing in girls’ education is critical in its own right, and has huge multiplier effects’15:

Educating girls improves labour market outcomes, reduces poverty, delays marriage, reduces mortality and fertility rates, and increases [Gross Domestic Product (GDP)]. A child whose mother can read is 50 per cent more likely to live past the age of five, 50 per cent more likely to be immunised, and twice as

likely to attend school. There is evidence that ensuring that all girls finish secondary education by 2030 could boost GDP by 10 per cent on average over the next decade.16

4.16 Walk Free stated ‘educating girls is strongly intertwined with social protection, and can significantly contribute to girls’ safety, wellbeing, and empowerment.’17 Walk Free recommended that the Australian Government ‘advocate for the importance of girls’ education to economic growth and social stability throughout all bilateral and diplomatic engagements and invest in programs that increase access to education for adolescent girls.’18

4.17 Australian overseas development assistance has been directed towards supporting education outcomes. DFAT stated that ‘Australian funding to Bangladesh in 2019-20 supported over 200,000 girls enrolled to complete primary and pre-primary schooling.’19 DFAT further stated that training and

13 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 7.

14 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 7.

15 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 7.

16 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 7.

17 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 10.

18 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 9.

19 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 35

support programs to ‘improve employability and build life skills’ were delivered through civil society organisations.20

4.18 Education programs supported by the Australian Government have also included child and forced marriage components. ‘Humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees and host communities’ in Bangladesh was stated by DFAT to have included ‘awareness sessions on the risks of early and forced marriage’ as well as support for ‘home learning to ensure girls receive an education’.21

4.19 Rates of child and forced marriage are also being used as an indicator to direct additional funding. DFAT stated that ‘the Global Partnership for Education uses rates of early marriage as one of the indicators for countries’ eligibility for additional finance through the Girls’ Education Accelerator.’22

4.20 The Australian Government’s Australia Awards program provides scholarships for overseas students to study in Australia. DFAT stated that it has ‘some grant programs for our alumni who have returned from Australia Awards programs in Australia.’23 Ms Chartres, DFAT described supporting the work of alumni on advocating on child marriage issues:

I certainly know from my experience and my team’s experience in Nairobi that our alumni were terrific at getting into the grassroots communities, and I worked with quite a few of our alumni, particularly on child marriage and female genital mutilation, on advocacy and seeking change. Being Kenyans, Tanzanians or Ugandans, of course, they were very well placed to be working back within their communities as well as, of course, their day jobs. But, in their spare time, they were very generous at working on these issues as well. We were and still are able to give them some small funding to support them to do that.24

4.21 DFAT stated that it was developing ‘a global tracker which with which we not only connect people’ who have participated in the Australia Awards

20 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

21 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

22 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 7.

23 Ms Alison Chartres, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Division, DFAT,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 7.

24 Ms Chartres, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 7.

36 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

program, but also ‘follow them and work out how they’ve developed within their careers and connect.25

4.22 Walk Free identified the work of the Australia Awards program, particularly in Africa, in providing access to education. Walk Free stated, however, ‘that the support needs to go beyond achieving “gender parity of access to the Australia Awards-Africa program” and also support “female awardees on their return to their home countries” to tackle the root drivers of risk driven by gender biases.’26

4.23 DFAT pointed to the specific value of sexuality education, and stated that in Nepal, its ‘Comprehensive Sexuality Education Program, with [UN Population Fund (UNFPA)] … is providing adolescent girls and boys with education on their sexual and reproductive health rights and is helping to address harmful social norms regarding child marriage.’27 The program is funded between 2020 and 2025.28

4.24 Family Planning NSW also emphasised the importance of sexuality education as an early intervention for forced marriage, and stated that:

… child forced marriage can be prevented through the delivery of evidence-based holistic comprehensive sexuality education that provides young girls and their families with skills and information on their rights regarding relationships and health.29

4.25 In addition to the delivery of ‘comprehensive sexuality education programs both within schools and through community programs’, Family Planning NSW recommended that ‘sexual health professionals’ be provided with education and resources to help them ‘identify children and young people at risk of child forced marriage’ during the delivery of these programs.30

25 Dr Robert Christie, Assistant Secretary, Educational Social Protection and Human Development

Finance Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 7.

26 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 8.

27 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

28 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

29 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 2.

30 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 2.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 37

Women’s participation and political involvement

4.26 Limited opportunities for women’s political involvement were described by DFAT as one of the drivers of child and forced marriage.31 The Australian Government’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031 is underpinned by four pillars, including the promotion of ‘women’s full and meaningful participation, and gender equality in peace and security decision-making processes.’32

4.27 Ms Guivarra, DFAT Ambassador for Gender Equality, stated that ‘changing social and cultural norms takes decades and it takes continued advocacy efforts at various levels.’33 Ms Guivarra elaborated that the ‘whole-of-community effort’ to change norms is supported by women’s rights organisations:

It’s not just a question of advocacy by government officials; it actually does require a whole-of-community effort. That includes the private sector being engaged in these conversations and also civil society groups in particular. And there are a number of very strong women’s rights organisations and women’s organisations in our region that we work with.’34

4.28 ACRATH spoke of the need to build cultural norms that allow women to participate equally in local governance. ACRATH provided an example of a woman who ‘stood her ground and … kept pushing to claim her space’35 in local governance matters:

We run a kindergarten, a preschool, in Kiribati. It was the first preschool to be run there, and it’s run by local sisters now. It’s important, in the sisters’ interactions with us, that we train them well to be able to address the issues of their own culture in that small school. It’s a beginning. I think that’s where it starts, at that very young age. I can give you an example of a Kiribati sister who spoke out in the local maneaba, where only men ever had the right to speak. She was ostracised for a period, but she stood her ground and she kept pushing to claim her space in that arena. She could do that, probably, because she was a member of a religious order and she had the support from us to do

31 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

32 Australian Government, Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031, p. 2.

33 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 4.

34 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 4.

35 Sister Condon, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 16.

38 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

that, but it is very difficult for village women to speak up. So the education has got to start from the ground up.36

4.29 DFAT stated that the Australian Government has undertaken efforts to provide platforms at international forums for discussion about women’s issues, which provides to women a ‘safe space to profile these concerns and to give voice to them.’37 As an example, DFAT stated at the Commission on the Status of Women it provided to ‘young Pacific women’ the opportunity to ‘talk very openly in an international forum about what the issues were that were affecting them as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.’38

4.30 Women’s participation is also important in the specific context of developing child and forced marriage interventions. Walk Free stated ‘the people with lived experience are the people who are going to have the greatest answers to these problems. Often, women are excluded from these dialogues.’39

4.31 Anti-Slavery Australia also stated that its work ‘is absolutely grounded in the work of survivors’.40 Anti-Slavery Australia further explained its project with the Department of Social Services to develop ‘a champions program, which is a form of peer-to-peer leadership.’41

Supporting legal and justice sector responses

4.32 ‘Weak regulation or enforcement of existing laws, and limited human rights protections for women and girls’ was described by DFAT as additional drivers of child and forced marriage across countries.42

4.33 In strengthening legal and justice sector responses to child and forced marriage, DFAT states that its supports ‘advocacy to relevant legislative bodies when laws are being considered with respect to the age of marriage, or laws that might impact the rights of women and girls or other drivers of child and forced marriage.’43

36 Sister Condon, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 16.

37 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 4.

38 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 4.

39 Ms Grace Forrest, Founding Director, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 16.

40 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

41 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

42 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 3.

43 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 39

4.34 ‘A number of examples where there has been over the last decades quite a significant shift in terms of the legislative and regulatory approaches’ across nations were observed by DFAT.44 DFAT identified, however, variable application of those laws across nations and stated ‘the effect of those laws is dependent on … the cultural norms. It’s also dependent on the ability of law enforcement to be able to engage with and enforce those laws.’45

4.35 Walk Free stated that ‘in many countries, social norms devalue girls from birth, and this is reinforced by systemic inequality in both laws and customs.46 Walk Free further stated that ‘forced marriage laws are rare. Only 50 countries have criminalised forced marriage, and only 30 have set laws setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 years without exception.’47

4.36 As an example of direct advocacy work, DFAT stated that it had ‘supported work to change Indonesia’s 1974 Marriage Law to prevent child marriage. In September 2019, Indonesia increased the marriageable age of girls from 16 years to 19 years, in line with the legal age of marriage for men.’48

Dominant cultural practices, and working with faith-based communities

4.37 DFAT identified ‘dominant cultural practices’ in a region as a driver for child and forced marriage. Inquiry participants also referred to the importance of working with faith-based communities on the intersection of cultural and religious drivers of child and forced marriage.

4.38 Family Planning NSW stated that ‘in the East South East Asia and Oceania (ESEAO) region, child forced marriage and early union continue to be practiced under the guise of cultural and religious reasons.’49

4.39 DFAT stated that its work as part of the Ending Violence Against Women program included ‘working with religious clerics and community groups to

44 Ms Lucienne Manton, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, People Smuggling and Human

Trafficking Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

45 Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 5.

46 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 10.

47 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 10.

48 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 5.

49 Family Planning NSW, Submission 1, p. 1.

40 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

shift norms and behaviours.’ 50 DFAT spoke about its work in Afghanistan as part of this program, stating ‘in 2018, female beneficiaries … reported organising women’s groups to arrange marriages based on individual choices, which reduced child and forced marriages in Khost province.’51

4.40 DFAT stated its ‘Empowerment through Education’ program was allocated $20.7 million between 2011 to 2020. 52 In Afghanistan this program provided ‘training to targeted community leaders and village education committees’ on a range of areas that ‘aim to address to underlying issues that lead to child, early and forced marriage.’53

4.41 Walk Free identified that ‘the Australian Government already has experience working with faith leaders and communities of faith to disrupt norms that devalue women and girls.’54 Walk Free advocated for the expansion of ‘the approach taken in the Ending Violence Against Women in Afghanistan and Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development programs by working with faith leaders to remove gender inequality from faith teachings and change attitudes to forced and child marriage in all high-risk countries.’55

4.42 The ‘interaction between religion and culture’ was described by ACRATH as ‘very complex’.56 ACRATH stated that working on forced marriage issues requires ‘looking at the long-term historical cultural issues. They often get confused with the religious side as well, because this happens across all religions.’57

4.43 Anti-Slavery Australia highlighted that cultural and religious practices often complicate efforts to remedy forced marriage situations, even if known:

Quite often there might be various cultural or religious factors at play as well. As we’ve touched upon, they might be second-generation girls that have grown up in Australia or they might have arrived in Australia at a young age. But quite often there are various cultural factors at play.

50 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

51 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

52 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

53 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 4.

54 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 13.

55 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 14.

56 Sister Condon, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 15.

57 Sister Condon, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 15.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 41

From our experience, when we talk to these individuals, quite often they might be torn between a desire for autonomy and a desire to also preserve those cultural practices as well.58

4.44 ACRATH stated that in working with communities, the role of external governments and organisations is ‘to listen. It’s to stay with the culture and help them to identify what the aberrations in their culture are, not for us to come and impose.’59

4.45 DFAT stated in Pakistan and Kenya it has provided support to organisations holding policy and community dialogues on child and forced marriage.60 In Pakistan, DFAT’s support as part of its Ending Violence Against Women program also ‘included a qualitative study of influencers and drivers of child marriage in north-western Pakistan.’61

4.46 Walk Free referred to the work of the Global Freedom Network, which ‘aims to raise awareness of modern slavery risks and impact among communities of faith, is working to disseminate modern slavery awareness raising campaigns directly to faith communities.’62

Working with community organisations

4.47 The Australian Government has provided funding to community organisations to support programs that provide services to victims, training or raise awareness on child and forced marriage issues. The provision of training for frontline workers in community organisations was described as important.

4.48 Within Australia, the AFP stated that it’s ‘engaged with female leaders through’ its Community Liaison Teams ‘to grow awareness and education on forced marriage.’63 The AFP stated:

58 Ms Sandeep Dhillon, Lawyer, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney, Committee

Hansard, Parliament House, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 18.

59 Sister Condon, ACRATH, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 15.

60 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 5.

61 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 5.

62 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 15; Walk Free, Submission 5,

p. 13.

63 Australian Federal Police, Submission 7, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

42 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Although [Community Liaison Teams] are focused on the prevention of terrorism and radicalisation, they allow the AFP to build trust among vulnerable groups in the community. … These community leaders have expressed an interest in working more closely with these teams in future to prevent a broader range of crime types.64

4.49 ACRATH stated that the key components of its program include ‘delivering training modules to front line workers in health and education across Australia and the Asia Pacific region.’65 ACRATH stated that this training teaches how to identify and support someone who may be facing a forced marriage:

… sharing the data indicating vulnerabilities to forced marriage - highlighting the indicative signs of forced marriage and key actions to take to support someone who may be facing a forced marriage and - training staff to take appropriate steps to lead a victim safely out of a potentially illegal and harmful situation.66

4.50 The AFP also detailed that it had established Project SKYWARP, which ‘was delivered in 2019 in partnership with Anti- Slavery Australia, the Sydney Airport Corporation and the ABF’ to help ‘educate the public on indicators of modern slavery and human trafficking and encourage victims and witnesses to seek help from authorities.’67

Look a Little Deeper (LALD) training program for frontline responders

4.51 The AFP elaborated that its Look a Little Deeper ‘(LALD) project is a human trafficking and slavery information and awareness program for frontline police and other government agencies.’68 The AFP is ‘developing a bespoke version of the LALD package which will specifically focus on education relating to forced marriage’.69

64 Australian Federal Police, Submission 7, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 2.

65 ACRATH, Submission 3, p. 3.

66 ACRATH, Submission 3, p. 3.

67 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

68 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

69 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

ADDRESSING DRIVERS OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE 43

4.52 The AFP stated ‘all sworn AFP officers have also been foundation trained through the Look a Little Deeper (LALD) frontline responder program.’70 The AFP elaborated that:

The LALD campaign recognises that first responders are likely to encounter potential human trafficking and slavery in the course of their duties, and aims to equip them with the necessary skills to identify and respond to a range of indicators.71

4.53 The AFP stated that since March 2019, ‘LALD training has been delivered to 1245 external participants across 66 sessions’. The AFP stated that it also runs this training for community groups and ‘for a number of agencies that are deploying offshore’ and noted that:72

… often those communities aren’t aware that in Australia some of these issues are actually a criminal offence. For us, part of our role is, through our community liaison teams and also our human trafficking teams, to actively engage with those communities to educate them and deliver awareness packages about some of those issues through Look a Little Deeper. We also do it for frontline workers across government and in partnership with civil society so that those frontline workers also can be more aware of some of the challenges with these communities in terms of practices with things such as forced marriage.73

Concluding comment

4.54 Forced marriage is an issue partially driven by dominant cultural practices in a region, and it is difficult to untangle social, cultural and religious norms across countries. The Committee acknowledges DFAT’s evidence on the careful approach needed when advocating to foreign governments on child and forced marriage, and that working with local NGOs.

4.55 Inquiry participants described the need to work with local communities and local NGOs when pushing for social and cultural change. The Committee acknowledges DFAT’s evidence about community dialogues and studies of drivers in regions that the Australian Government has facilitated.

70 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

71 AFP, Submission 7, p. 3.

72 Ms Lesa Gale, Assistant Commissioner Northern Command, Committee Hansard, Canberra,

18 June 2021, p. 4.

73 Ms Gale, AFP, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 4.

44 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

4.56 In addition to barriers to change presented the pre-existing norms in a country, forced marriage is driven partly by environmental factors. This is seen in the impact that is seen in the early figures of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in reduced economic security in the region.

4.57 The Committee heard that general advances in gender equality and women’s empowerment can contribute to an environment that reduces the incentives for engagement in child and forced marriage practices. Education, in particular, was described as a critical component in leading to social and economic empowerment.

4.58 Further, the Committee heard that specific sexuality education programs could contribute to ensuring that vulnerable young adults are aware of their rights. Inquiry participants also suggested that training provided to those around young adults, such as teachers and health professionals, could ensure that they can play the role of identifying individuals that may be facing a child and forced marriage situation.

Recommendation 3

4.59 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government include support for initiatives to eliminate child and forced marriage as part of Australia’s aid program.

Recommendation 4

4.60 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues to support efforts to improve education outcomes for women and girls, particularly in regions with high rates of child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 5

4.61 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues to enhance its engagement with community and faith-based groups both in Australia and globally to hold dialogues and support work in shifting social norms in relation to child and forced marriage.

45

5. Australian Government support

5.1 Anti-Slavery Australia, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) and Walk Free identified challenges that are faced by individuals seeking assistance. These include challenges with access to consular services, legal, financial, and visa and migration processes. Anti-Slavery Australia also stated that ‘COVID has heightened difficulties experienced by Australians overseas.’1

5.2 Australian citizens and permanent residents overseas who are in need of assistance can seek support from Australian consulates. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) play a substantial role in the provision of assistance outside of Australia, with DFAT highlighting that ‘Australian government officials are obliged to report any information about a possible case of forced marriage involving Australian citizens and permanent residents, and that referral is made to the AFP.’2

5.3 Non-government organisations provide support services for Australians, whether they are in Australia or outside of Australia. For example, the Australian Government funds the Australian Red Cross to deliver the Support for Trafficked People Program. Anti-Slavery Australia also operates the My Blue Sky website and helpline.

1 Professor Jennifer Burn, Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney,

Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 11.

2 Ms Lucienne Manton, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, People Smuggling and Human

Trafficking Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 8.

46 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Support for Australians when overseas

5.4 DFAT stated that ‘overseas, DFAT works closely with the Australian Federal Police to provide consular assistance to victims or those who believe themselves at risk of a forced marriage.’3 DFAT explained that it ‘provides information to the public on child and forced marriages through the Smartraveller website, including information on how to seek assistance.’4

5.5 The AFP also has officials located overseas. The AFP stated its ‘International Liaison Officer Network provides investigative assistance to foreign law enforcement in relation to a range of crime types including modern slavery and human trafficking. The AFP has 166 members posted to 33 countries around the world, all of whom are provided with [Look a Little Deeper] training’, a training program on human trafficking issues.5

5.6 Expanding on its consular and overseas assistance for child and forced marriage, DFAT elaborated that:

… our consular officers take a victim centred approach and very special care to ensure that the victim’s welfare is handled appropriately and sensitively. We recognise that this is a serious extraterritorial offence.6

5.7 DFAT and AFP described the training provided to their officers on forced marriage. This included training on reporting obligations, as well as training to identify indicators of forced marriage delivered by government and non-government organisations. The Look a Little Deeper training program run by the AFP is discussed further in Chapter 4.

5.8 DFAT stated that ‘training for consular staff in DFAT contains a specific session on forced marriage and includes detailed discussions on reporting obligations in relation to extraterritorial offences.’7

5.9 ACRATH stated that ‘there are clear indications of need’ to raise awareness of child and forced marriage among ‘in-country diplomatic staff’8 ACRATH further stated:

3 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 2.

4 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 2.

5 Australian Federal Police (AFP), Submission 7, p. 5.

6 Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 8.

7 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 8.

8 Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Submission 3, p. 4.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 47

Accurate and up-to-date information about how to advise and refer victims to suitable assistance pathways on their return to Australia is also a necessity. … ACRATH has delivered presentations to diplomatic missions on human trafficking in Indonesia and Thailand. These opportunities are invaluable to overseas missions as they provide detailed information and personal stories from survivors.9

5.10 Organisations providing child and forced marriage support services have also facilitated assistance through DFAT’s consular services. Anti-Slavery Australia detailed that ‘in every case where a client is located overseas’ it ‘has worked closely with DFAT’s consular operations area and Australian posts overseas when attempting to repatriate clients, and this cooperation has been invaluable.’10

5.11 Anti-Slavery Australia, however, identified there is often ‘no Australian diplomatic presence in the area where the victim is located.’11 Anti-Slavery Australia explained that ‘this means individuals may be advised to travel to neighbouring countries to access Australian Government assistance (for example, collecting emergency travel documents). This is often impractical, and near impossible, due to country conditions and associated safety risks.’12

5.12 Concerns about a lack of direct diplomatic presence were also raised by Walk Free, which identified that ‘nine of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriages globally are in Africa .... Australia only has direct diplomatic presence in two of these nations (Mozambique and Nigeria) and Australia’s development program to Sub-Saharan Africa is minimal’.13

Repatriation challenges

5.13 In assisting individuals return to Australia, Anti-Slavery Australia stated ‘there have been longstanding difficulties in repatriation efforts’, and further stated that these difficulties ‘have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.’14

9 ACRATH, Submission 3, pp. 4-5.

10 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

11 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

12 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

13 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 8.

14 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

48 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

5.14 Anti-Slavery Australia noted a ‘lack of clear government policy on appropriate responses to forced marriage victims overseas.’15 Anti-Slavery Australia identified that consular and passport policy matters are among ‘the types of issues raised in forced marriage repatriations’.16

5.15 Anti-Slavery Australia recommended that ‘to promote the safety, wellbeing and long-term security of those experiencing forced marriage, DFAT lead a multi-stakeholder group of government and key civil society organisations to develop a repatriation policy.’17 Anti-Slavery Australia stated:

[Anti-Slavery Australia has] seen the opportunity to develop a streamlined repatriation protocol which addresses communication channels; the provision of emergency travel documents; financial assistance; and, specifically, the assistance available from relevant Australian diplomatic or consular missions.18

5.16 Anti-Slavery Australia drew on its casework experience to highlight the following areas that the Australian Government should address in a repatriation protocol19:

 Clear channels to enable streamlined referrals and communication between DFAT and organisations managing repatriation case;

 Provision of consular assistance to minors, particularly addressing cases where there may not be consent from the parents;

 Provision of travel advice by DFAT;

 Provision of emergency travel documents;

 Provision of emergency financial assistance [...];

 Assistance to access a wider/whole-of-government response where necessary (e.g. hosting case conferences between relevant stakeholders, referrals to other agencies (Department of Home Affairs for visa issues, or [Attorney-General’s Department] in child protection issues));

 Assistance from Australia’s diplomatic/consular mission where the individual is located; and

15 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

16 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

17 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 11.

18 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 11.

19 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 49

 Any other guidance and assistance the Australian Government is able to provide.20

Programs delivered by non-government organisations

Support for Trafficked People Program

5.17 The Support for Trafficked People Program (STPP) is administered by the Department of Social Services and delivered by the Australian Red Cross and ‘aims to assist clients in meeting their safety, security, health and well-being needs, and to develop options for life after they leave the Support Program.’21

5.18 The AFP stated that it ‘is the only agency able to refer suspected victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to the STPP.’22 The AFP explained:

AFP officers are specially trained to assess each case to determine if the victim has been subjected to human trafficking or slavery in accordance with the Crimes Act definitions, and then refer victims to the most appropriate support services for their circumstances. Further, the AFP is equipped to provide a range of protections to victims as needed. Noting the significant benefits available through the program, the AFP is also positioned to prevent fraudulent actors from exploiting the system.23

5.19 The STPP includes a ‘Forced Marriage Support Stream’ which provides ‘intensive support for up to 200 days for clients who are in, or at risk of, a forced marriage. This includes access to the 90 days of support already provided on the “Assessment and Intensive Support” and “Extended Intensive Support” streams.’24

20 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

21 Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force (ABF), Submission 4, p. 3; Department of

Social Services (DSS), ‘Support for Trafficked People Program’, https://www.dss.gov.au/women/programs-services/reducing-violence/anti-people-trafficking-strategy/support-for-trafficked-people-program, viewed 8 November 2021.

22 AFP, Submission 7, p. 7.

23 AFP, Submission 7, p. 7.

24 DSS, ‘Support for Trafficked People Program’, viewed 8 November 2021.

50 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

My Blue Sky

5.20 Anti-Slavery Australia operates the My Blue Sky website and the My Blue Sky helpline. In addition to recommending that individuals contact the AFP, the Australian Government directs individuals ‘in, or at risk of, a forced marriage’ to the My Blue Sky website and helpline for ‘support and free, confidential legal advice.’25

5.21 Anti-Slavery Australia detailed its My Blue Sky website and helpline was the primary means that individuals reached out to Anti-Slavery Australia for help:

Most of these individuals contact us, seeking assistance, through My Blue Sky, which is a national website aimed at the prevention of forced marriage, or directly through our hotline. Often they are in Australia and fear being taken overseas for a forced marriage. We also receive other contacts, predominantly from young girls and women who have been taken overseas and are seeking to be repatriated.26

5.22 The My Blue Sky website provides a list of pathways to help, identifying the following situations that an individual may find themselves in:

 I want to stop the violence

 I need a safe place to stay

 I want to leave my marriage

 I want to withdraw my support for their visa

 I want to stay in Australia on my own visa

 I want to return to Australia

 I want to receive compensation for my injuries

 I want to talk to someone

 I don’t want to travel overseas27

5.23 The Australian Border Force stated that ‘$355,393 was awarded to Anti-Slavery Australia over 2014-17 to develop www.mybluesky.org.au’, which it referred to as ‘Australia’s first dedicated website to preventing and

25 DSS, ‘Support for Trafficked People Program’, viewed 8 November 2021.

26 Ms Sandheep Dhillon, Lawyer, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney, Committee

Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 17.

27 Anti-Slavery Australia, ‘What help is available?’, My Blue Sky, https://mybluesky.org.au/what-help-is-available/, viewed 25 October 2021.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 51

addressing forced marriage.’28 The ABF stated that in 2017-18 a further ‘$125,000 was awarded to Anti-Slavery Australia to maintain and improve www.mybluesky.org.au’.29

Challenges experienced by those facing child or forced marriage

5.24 Inquiry participants identified a number of challenges that arise for individuals, including family dynamics, financial pressures, legal consent issues for minors, and visa and migration matters.

5.25 Forced marriage cases may be interlinked with financial pressures, as well as complex relationships with parents and families. Those seeking to leave a forced marriage or return to Australia may be in financially vulnerable position.

5.26 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that in the Australian context, ‘the AFP have received more referrals of forced marriage cases than any other form of modern slavery and yet we haven’t been able to progress those to deep investigations that potentially lead to a prosecution.’30 Anti-Slavery Australia further stated that there are clear ‘reasons for that reluctance to proceed by young witnesses’.31

5.27 The AFP elaborated on its ‘victim-centric approach’, which accounts that girls in forced marriage situations perpetrated by their parents often do not wish to prosecute their parents through the justice system:

[The AFP] take a victim-centric approach to how we deal with crimes of forced marriage. So prosecution isn’t necessarily the preferred outcome. We’re often talking about young girls, and their parents are often the perpetrators. The girls don’t want to be prosecuting their parents. All they want is not to be getting married and be taken offshore, in some instances. So that’s where that relationship with the NGOs—particularly with things such as abandonment— is so critical.32

28 Australian Border Force (ABF), Submission 4: 1, p. 3.

29 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 2.

30 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 17.

31 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 17.

32 Ms Lesa Gale, Assistant Commissioner Northern Command, AFP, Committee Hansard, Canberra,

18 June 2021, p. 6.

52 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Parental consent issues

5.28 Anti-Slavery Australia observed ‘legal issues in relation to minors’, in relation to the government seeking parental consent prior to intervening. Anti-Slavery Australia stated ‘in forced marriage matters, often the parents and extended family of the individual at risk are complicit. In the case of minors, we have observed a reluctance from government to intervene due to a lack of consent from the parents.’33

5.29 As a result, Anti-Slavery Australia identified that civil society organisations were the primary avenue for assistance. ‘This means young, at risk individuals overseas are forced to rely upon limited support from foreign civil society organisations (if available, at all) or international organisations.’34

Financial pressures and vulnerabilities

5.30 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that ‘the majority of individuals taken overseas for forced marriage are minors and/or experiencing other vulnerabilities. It is rare that they are financially independent’.35 Anti-Slavery Australia further stated that this ‘lack of funds often leaves them stranded overseas for prolonged periods (often years) and exposes them to further harm.’36

5.31 A lack of funds was identified by Anti-Slavery Australia to mean that individuals are faced with an ‘inability to obtain flights, accommodation, transport, mobile phones, and other critical assistance to escape from the situation.’37

5.32 The ABF stated that ‘the National Action Plan [to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25] recognises that dowry may be a driver for parents to force a marriage or be part of the coercion experienced by those within forced marriages that prevent them from being able to leave.’38 The ABF further stated that as part of consultation for ‘models for enhanced civil protections and remedies’ it works ‘closely with civil society to consider how a model

33 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

34 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

35 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

36 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

37 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 5.

38 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 5.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 53

for enhanced protections may be sensitive and responsive to the challenges posed by the intersection between forced marriage and dowry abuse.’39

5.33 Anti-Slavery Australia acknowledged that the Australian Government’s Hardship Loan Fund was ‘developed in response to COVID-19’ and built ‘on the existing Traveller Emergency Loans program.’ However, Anti-Slavery Australia was ‘conscious that this assistance is temporary and will not be accessible to our clients once the initiative comes to an end.’40

5.34 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that it is ‘reliant on sourcing funds from other civil society organisations. However, the volume of clients and level of financial assistance needed goes beyond the capacity of any funds’ it is ‘able to secure.’41 Anti-Slavery Australia suggested that the approach seen in the United Kingdom (UK) with the government directly ‘providing financial assistance to victims of forced marriage needing repatriation’42 be followed:

… [Anti-Slavery Australia] strongly recommend the creation of an Australian Government grant program, administered by DFAT, dedicated to providing financial assistance to victims of forced marriage needing repatriation. We consider that financial assistance given in the form of grants is the most appropriate in these situations. We also note that this is the approach currently taken in the UK, which has established a Forced Marriage Unit that leads the UK Government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework, and also funds the repatriation of individuals at risk who are assisted by the UK Foreign Office to return home.43

Migration and visa matters

5.35 There are significant interactions between migration policy and child and forced marriage issues. For example, victims of forced marriage may be asked to sponsor the migration of a potential spouse to Australia.

5.36 Victims of forced marriage may have also been brought to Australia, either with the marriage having occurred overseas, or with the intention of it occurring in Australia. These victims may hold a temporary Australian visa, such as a partner visa.

39 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 5.

40 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 6.

41 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 7.

42 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 7.

43 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 7.

54 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

5.37 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF advised that ‘most victims are either permanent residents or Australian citizens.’44

Partner and prospective marriage visas

5.38 ‘Current Partner’ visas allow an individual to sponsor their partner to migrate to Australia. The Department of Home Affairs/ABF detailed that ‘Current Partner visa age requirements align with the provisions in the Marriage Act, which preclude the recognition of child marriages in most circumstances.’45 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF explained:

Current Partner visa provisions in the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Migration Regulations) require that at time of application:

 Partner visa applicants in a de facto relationship are 18 years of age or older;

 applicants have a valid marriage under Australian law; and

 for sponsors aged under 18 (but over 16), the parent/guardian sponsors the Partner visa applicant.46

5.39 For the ‘Prospective Marriage’ visa, the Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that ‘the Migration Regulations require applicants and sponsors to be 18 years of age or older at the time of application. The Regulations also require that the sponsor and applicant have met in person since both have turned 18 years of age.’47

5.40 In relation to cases of child marriage, the Department of Home Affairs advised that over the past three years, it had only received ‘11 lodgements’ for ‘partner applications where applicants have been under the age of 18 at the time of application.’48

5.41 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that ‘in determining whether a marriage is recognised for migration purposes, visa processing officers routinely undertake document and identity checking processes.’49 This

44 Department of Home Affairs,/ABF, Submission 4, p. 8.

45 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

46 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

47 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

48 Ms Jodie Bjerregaard, Assistant Secretary Family Visas, Department of Home Affairs, Committee

Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 6.

49 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 55

process allows an opportunity to identify instances of forced marriages, with the Department of Home Affairs/ABF explaining that:

Should there be any concerns that either party to an application may not be a willing participant in the marriage or the visa application, visa processing officers will conduct further integrity checks including by interviewing the sponsor and visa applicant. The Department/ABF also has in place risk profiles and treatments to identify and apply greater scrutiny to cases of applicants that may be at risk of forced marriage.50

Cancellation of visas of perpetrators

5.42 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF also detailed processes to ensure that perpetrators of forced marriage are properly identified during the visa application process. This may result in the rejection or cancellation of a visa.

5.43 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF recognised that ‘perpetrators or facilitators of forced marriage can be difficult to identify, particularly in instances where there is no prior information or intelligence to suggest that a forced marriage has or is going to take place, there is little information about the offending, or there is no conviction.’51

5.44 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF outlined that ‘on 15 April 2021, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs issued a new direction to guide decision-making relating to the character test’52, allowing consideration of whether the visa was held by someone who is a perpetrator or facilitator of forced marriage. The Department of Home Affairs/ABF explained:

The direction introduced specific guidance in relation to forced marriage, requiring decision-makers to seriously consider causing a person to enter into, or be a party to (other than a victim of) a forced marriage in deciding whether to refuse or a cancel a visa on character grounds, or to revoke a mandatory visa cancellation.53

5.45 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF also highlighted that ‘the Migration Act has a number of additional cancellation provisions that allow visa cancellation of perpetrators or facilitators of forced marriage in certain

50 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 6.

51 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 7.

52 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 7.

53 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 7.

56 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

circumstances, including where a temporary visa holder arrives in Australia to perform cultural marriages, or where they gain a benefit for performing such ceremonies.’54

Other options for temporary visa holders

5.46 For victims of forced marriage that have been brought to Australia on a temporary visa, the Department of Home Affairs/ABF detailed that ‘the Human Trafficking visa framework (HTVF) provides visa options to allow suspected victims to remain lawfully in Australia.’55 Home Affairs stated that ‘individuals granted a visa under the HTVF are able to access’ the Support for Trafficked People Program.56

5.47 Home Affairs advised that the HTVF offers two visa categories, a temporary bridging visa or a permanent visa:

1 Bridging F visa (BVF) - a non-citizen assessed by the AFP as a suspected trafficked person may be eligible for a BVF for up to 45 days. A BVF can also be granted to the victim’s immediate family members in Australia. A second BVF may also be granted for a further 45 days (making up to 90 days available) which is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Trafficked non-citizens on BVFs have work rights and are eligible to receive support through the STPP. A BVF may also be granted to allow victims to remain in Australia while they assist with the administration of the criminal justice process.

2 Referred Stay (Permanent) visa (RSV) - a trafficked person who has made a contribution to an investigation or prosecution of an alleged offender, and who would be in danger if they returned to their home country, may be eligible for an RSV. This visa allows the holder to remain in Australia permanently, and immediate family may be included in the visa application.57

5.48 The Department of Home Affairs stated that for individuals who have come to Australia on a partner visa, and face abandonment or abuse, there are ‘provisions under the Migration Act to go through the avenue of the family violence provisions, which may lead to a permanent residency in their own right.’58

54 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 7.

55 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 8.

56 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 8.

57 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 8.

58 Ms Bjerregaard, Department of Home Affairs, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 6.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT 57

5.49 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that for those in a forced marriage where family violence provisions do not apply, ‘it isn’t currently possible to refer to a forced marriage and use that as a ground for the grant of permanent residence.’59

Concluding comment

5.50 The Committee notes that Australia’s own experience in supporting victim-survivors of forced marriage builds a knowledge base that can be drawn upon in its advocacy to other nations in eliminating the practice of child and forced marriage.

5.51 While the Committee has not undertaken a comprehensive examination of Australia’s domestic response to child and forced marriage, the description of challenges by inquiry participants provide insight into the problems that arise on the ground. In particular, they highlight the role of the Australian Government in providing consular assistance, passport, emergency travel documents, and advice on visa and migration matters.

5.52 The Committee acknowledges evidence from Walk Free that geostrategic decisions about the placement of embassies have implications for the child and forced marriage support services and advocacy. The Committee understands that there is no direct diplomatic representation by Australia in some countries with high prevalence of child and forced marriage.

5.53 The Committee acknowledges evidence that there is a close working relationship with NGOs and government. However, as the resolution of child and forced marriage cases is often dependent on government intervention on complex cross-jurisdictional matters, the Committee heard that a multi-stakeholder repatriation protocol to be developed by the Government in conjunction with NGOs may assist with improving communication channels and streamlining the repatriation process.

5.54 The Committee acknowledges evidence that the visa and migration framework, through human trafficking and domestic violence provisions, extends some protections to those in forced marriage situations. The Committee also acknowledges evidence that human trafficking programs, such as the Support for Trafficked People Program, provide specific streams of assistance for those experiencing child or forced marriage.

59 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 18.

58 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

5.55 The Committee acknowledges that cases of forced marriage are unique from other forms of human trafficking, and acknowledges evidence that family or domestic violence protections do not capture all cases of forced marriage.

Recommendation 6

5.56 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government identify opportunities to improve communication channels with key civil society organisations, including leading a multi-stakeholder group of government and key civil society organisations to develop a repatriation protocol that enables prompt and streamlined assistance to Australians overseas that are in, or at risk of, child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 7

5.57 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues and enhances funding to NGOs to counter child and forced marriage.

59

6. Advocacy by the Australian Government in multilateral fora

6.1 In advocating for progress towards the elimination of child and forced marriage globally, the Australian government has undertaken advocacy work on child and forced marriage issues in a range of multilateral fora, including through:

 the United Nations (UN);  Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN);  Commonwealth forums; and  the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and

Related Transnational Crime.

6.2 The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated ‘the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women has consistently raised her concerns about child and forced marriage in relevant international fora’.1

6.3 Walk Free stated that ‘multilateralism needs to come into force, because not one country alone, let alone Australia, can end child and forced marriage.’2 Walk Free further elaborated in its submission that:

Engagement with international institutions and multilateral forums, such as the Beijing+25 Conference, G20 Women 20 Summit, UN Women, [UN Population Fund (UNFPA)] and UNICEF, are key avenues through which Australia can promote action to address child and forced marriage.3

1 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Submission 6, p. 1.

2 The Hon Lisa Singh, Head of Government Advocacy, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, 18 June 2021,

Canberra, p. 13.

3 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 10.

60 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

6.4 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that ‘robust and consistent advocacy in international fora is critical for the prevention of human trafficking and modern slavery (including forced marriage)’ 4, and further stated:

We support continued efforts by DFAT, in particular Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues, Ambassador for Gender Equality, and Australia’s diplomatic network, to ensure these issues are recognised and addressed internationally.5

6.5 Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) recommended that the Australian Government ‘steps up its efforts in bilateral dialogues, multicultural engagements and forums’.6ACRATH urged the Government to ‘take every available opportunity to highlight the issue of child and forced marriage whenever it meets with foreign governments and key interlocutors’.7

United Nations (UN)

6.6 DFAT highlighted that Australia ‘has a strong record of advocacy in multilateral human rights fora … to ensure that the language, agreed by UN member states to characterise child and forced marriage reflects the seriousness of these violations and the complexity of the drivers.’8

6.7 DFAT advised that resolutions relating to forced marriage and gender equality have been considered at UN bodies including the:

 UN Commission on the Status of Women;  UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly;  UN Security Council;  UN General Assembly Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and

Cultural Issues; and  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).9

4 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 4.

5 Anti-Slavery Australia, Submission 2, p. 4.

6 Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Submission 3, p. 5.

7 ACRATH, Submission 3, p. 5.

8 Ms Lucienne Manton, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, People Smuggling and Human

Trafficking Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, pp. 1-2.

9 DFAT, Submission 6, pp. 5-6.

ADVOCACY BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IN MULTILATERAL FORA 61

6.8 DFAT stated that ‘there were a number of specific agreed conclusions from the Commission on the Status of Women [in 2021], which related specifically to the issue of early and forced marriage’.10

6.9 The Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force and DFAT stated in May 2021 it had ‘provided information about Australia’s commitment to combating forced marriage to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography, and other child sexual abuse material.’11

6.10 DFAT stated that Australia consistently co-sponsors relevant resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and associated resolutions at the ‘Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly’:

DFAT also advocates strongly through multilateral human rights fora to shape international norms on this issue, including through co-sponsoring the biennial resolution in the UN General Assembly Third Committee (Human Rights) on early, and forced marriage; the Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution on child, early, and forced marriage; the HRC resolution on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; and through the work of Special Mandate holders.12

6.11 More generally, DFAT further advised that the Australian Government continues to identify opportunities to shape international debates on gender equality, including on child and forced marriage, through efforts to bolster the Australian Government’s representation in the UN system.13

Commonwealth

6.12 DFAT stated that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Commonwealth Women’s Forum in April 2018 had agreed to statements on child and forced marriage matters.14 The Commonwealth Women’s Forum in its outcome statement urged for development and implementation of national action plans:

10 Ms Julie-Ann Guivarra, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Assistant Secretary Gender Equality

Branch, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 3.

11 Department of Home Affairs/Australian Border Force (ABF), Submission 4, p. 6; DFAT, Submission 6,

p. 5.

12 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 2.

13 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 6.

14 DFAT, Submission 6: 1, p. 21.

62 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Urge Heads to take decisive actions to develop, resource and implement holistic national action plans in alignment with the [Sustainable Development Goals] in order to deliver on the international and Commonwealth commitments to eliminate [child , early and forced marriage] and [female genital mutilation/cutting]. These should include work on education, access to community level resources, legislative and policy frameworks and better data to deliver on commitments to end both practices in alignment with the [Sustainable Development Goals] and the Kigali Declaration.15

Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

6.13 DFAT stated that ‘regional engagement on human trafficking is addressed through the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. The Bali Process is the premier regional forum on these issues, bringing together source, transit and destination countries.’16

6.14 The Department of Home Affairs advised that the Bali Process has 45 member countries and four member international organisations.17 The Australian Border Force stated ‘the Bali Process is co-chaired by Indonesia and Australia, and includes the Ad Hoc Group which brings together those most-affected member countries, and relevant international organisations, to address specific irregular migration issues in the region.’18

6.15 The Australian Border Force also stated ‘Australia (the ABF) and Indonesia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) co-chair the Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, which aims to promote more effective and coordinated law and justice responses to combat trafficking in persons in the region.’19

6.16 The ABF advised that this working group has identified human trafficking for the purposes of forced marriage as an emerging issue for consideration20:

[The Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons] Forward Work Plan 2021-23, endorsed by member countries and organisations in June 2021,

15 DFAT, Submission 6: 1, p. 21.

16 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 2.

17 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 4.

18 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 7.

19 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 7.

20 Department of Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 5.

ADVOCACY BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IN MULTILATERAL FORA 63

articulates the [Working Group’s] key priorities and activities over the next two years. This includes consideration of, and sharing experience related to, trafficking in persons for the purpose of forced marriage, and identifying areas for future research to increase members’ understanding of forced marriage.21

6.17 Walk Free advised that it provides secretariat services to the Bali Process Government and Business Forum.22

6.18 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF stated that it works with ‘Indo-Pacific partner governments to strengthen legal and policy frameworks to combat modern slavery’ through the Indo-Pacific Justice and Security Program (IP-JuSP).23 Among a number of engagements on human trafficking matters in 2019 and 2020, engagement through IP-JuSP included ‘a meeting of the Bali process working group … held virtually on 10 November 2020, providing a chance to share information on these issues’.24

6.19 The Department of Home Affairs/ABF has also ‘invited non-government organisations to speak to international delegations about providing support and protection to victims-survivors of forced marriage in Australia as part of the IP-JuSP.’25

ASEAN

6.20 DFAT stated that ASEAN had been ‘very active on these issues and trafficking issues’ and that it had ‘a very engaged dialogue’ with ASEAN.26

6.21 The ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) was adopted in 2015 by eight ASEAN member countries: Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.27

21 ABF, Submission 4: 1, p. 7.

22 Walk Free, Submission 5, p. 7.

23 Home Affairs/ABF, Submission 4, p. 5.

24 Ms Frances Finney PSM, Assistant Secretary, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, ABF,

Committee Hansard, 25 August 2021, p. 6.

25 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, 25 August 2021, p. 6.

26Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 23.

27 ASEAN, ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, p. 1.

64 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

6.22 ACTIP is complemented by the ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children which ‘aims to provide specific action plans within ASEAN Member States’ domestic laws and policies, as well as relevant international obligations, to effectively address regional challenges common to all ASEAN Member States’. It is further detailed in the ASEAN Plan of Action that:28

In line with the relevant ASEAN instruments and Roadmap for an ASEAN Community relating to trafficking in persons, there is a need to have strong international cooperation and a comprehensive regional approach to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in all forms of sexual, labour, and organ trafficking.29

6.23 DFAT stated that the ‘ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking program … increases capacity among law enforcement and court officials working on trafficking crimes.’30

6.24 DFAT further stated that ‘the issue of trafficking for child or forced marriage has been increasingly identified by the program as an emerging issue in some countries in South-East Asia.’31 As a result, DFAT advised that the ASEAN-Australia Counter-Trafficking Program ‘has commissioned a study looking into child protection risks facing children in ASEAN’ countries.32

International models under consideration

6.25 Inquiry participants referred to overseas jurisdictions efforts to specifically address child and forced marriage practices, in particular forced marriage protection orders such as seen in the United Kingdom (UK).33

6.26 The ABF stated that ‘the most notable [model] is the UK, with their forced marriage protection orders. [The ABF] have been reviewing the

28 ASEAN, ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, p. 1.

29 ASEAN, ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, p. 1.

30 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 5.

31 DFAT, Submission 6, p. 5.

32 Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 23.

33 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra 25 August 2021, p. 5; Ms Manton, DFAT, Committee

Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 7; Professor Jennifer Burn, Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 19; and the Hon Singh, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 21.

ADVOCACY BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IN MULTILATERAL FORA 65

arrangements in the UK, factoring in how that influences the design of the model here in Australia.’34

6.27 Regarding the UK model, Anti-Slavery Australia expressed that ‘there is value in looking at the experiences of the forced marriage unit [in the UK], particularly in relation to forced marriage orders.’35

6.28 In the UK, a forced marriage protection order is intended to protect victims who are being forced into a marriage, or have already been forced into marriage.36 A factsheet published by the Courts and Tribunals Service in the UK details:

A Forced Marriage Protection Order is unique to each case and contains legally binding conditions and directions that change the behaviour of a person or persons trying to force someone into marriage ... The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway.37

6.29 The ABF stated that it was scoping the applicability of UK-style forced marriage protection orders in discussions with state and territories in Australia.38 The ABF elaborated that these discussions included a range of considerations, including how it would fit or complement existing legislation:

… what we’re looking at is: How does the forced marriage protection order model fit within existing legislation? How is it going to be set up in a complementary way? And how do you set it up so that you’ve got a clear pathway and so potential victims know which way to go? Do they go to a family violence solution, or do they go to the forced marriage proposed

solution? These are all the discussions that we’re having at the moment.39

6.30 Anti-Slavery Australia stated that the UK ‘have developed multi-stakeholder, multiagency guidelines that would provide guidance to government agencies and civil society organisations working within the context of forced marriage.’ Anti-Slavery compared this to Australia where

34 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 5.

35 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 19.

36 HM Courts and Tribunals Service, Factsheet FL701: Forced Marriage Protection Orders,

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/forced-marriage-protection-orders-fl701/forced-marriage-protection-orders, viewed 1 December 2021.

37 HM Courts and Tribunals Service, Factsheet FL701.

38 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 5.

39 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 5.

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non-government organisation (NGO) guidelines have been developed40, but not with a multiagency perspective:

In Australia we have the NGO guidelines for working with trafficked people, and they set out standards of professional practice within the context of modern slavery. But developing a clear set of guidelines for all agencies that are likely to have carriage of matters related to survivors would be of great utility.41

6.31 The Norway Competence Team against Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and Negative Social Control is ‘a national, inter-agency team of experts that advises public service employees in individual cases and provides competence building.’42 The Department of Home Affairs advised in relation to the competence-building model seen used in Norway, it had ‘funded a grant in the most recent grants round, which is going to provide an opportunity for us to learn from that model and, obviously, through the grant funded organisation, to see if we can trial some of those learnings in an Australian context.’43

Child and forced marriage clauses in trade agreements

6.32 Walk Free observed that ‘since the 1990s, human rights clauses have been progressively included within free trade agreements (FTAs), on topics including labour rights, gender equality, and environment protection.’44

6.33 DFAT stated that ‘a number of our trade agreements … reinforce the international architecture that exists … already, whether that be labour provisions or environmental provisions.’ DFAT further stated ‘countries are [not necessarily] using trade agreements to enforce human rights mechanisms that don’t exist already.’45

40 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 19.

41 Professor Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 19.

42 Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, The Right to Decide about One’s Own Life: An

Action Plan to Combat Negative Social Control, Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation 2017-2020, p. 18, https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/e570201f283d48529d6211db392e4297/action-plan-the-right-to-decide-about-ones-own-life-2017-2020.pdf, viewed 1 December 2021.

43 Ms Finney, ABF, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 25 August 2021, p. 5.

44 Walk Free, Submission 5: 1, p. 3.

45 Ms Guivarra, DFAT, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 23.

ADVOCACY BY THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IN MULTILATERAL FORA 67

6.34 Walk Free stated that ‘historically, Australia [has] received criticism for an apparent reluctance to incorporate “non-trade issues” within trade agreements.’46

6.35 Walk Free advocated that ‘[a]ny new bilateral or multilateral trade agreement must include a human rights clause that addresses the end of forced and child marriage in that country. This would link outcomes for women and girls to our international development agenda and economic investments’.47

6.36 Walk Free identified that in recent trade agreements Australia has included human rights matters in free trade agreements:

Yet more recent trade agreements, such as Peru-Australia [Free Trade Agreement] in force as of 2020, incorporated provisions on labour rights, including on the elimination of forced labour and abolition of child labour, within the agreement.48

6.37 Walk Free referred to precedents from the European Union, United States of America and Canada on the inclusion of human right clauses, as well as ‘the Australian Government’s recent similar actions’, and posited that ‘a natural progression for the Australian Government will be to include clauses addressing child and forced marriage within all trade agreements.’49

Concluding comment

6.38 There has been sustained international activity on the issue of child and forced marriage, including in recent years across the United Nations, ASEAN, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

6.39 The Committee acknowledges DFAT’s evidence that the Australian Government has used opportunities to highlight child and forced marriage as part of the broader international discourses on human trafficking and gender equality, and urges that the Australian Government continue to identify these opportunities to draw attention to this issue.

6.40 Multilateral forums provide the opportunity to seek agreement on consistent approaches to responding to human rights challenges across a range of

46 Walk Free, Submission 5: 1, p. 5.

47 Ms Forrest, Walk Free, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 18 June 2021, p. 10.

48 Walk Free, Submission 5: 1, p. 5.

49 Walk Free, Submission 5: 1, p. 3.

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nations. The Committee heard about legal frameworks and approaches in other parts of the world to respond to child and forced marriage practices, particularly those implemented by the UK Government.

6.41 The Committee acknowledges evidence from the Australian Border Force that alternative models that have been implemented by foreign governments are under consideration and consultation, as part of work on Action Item 23 of the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2021-25 to develop a model for enhanced civil protections for people in, or at risk of forced marriage.

Recommendation 8

6.42 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government maintains Australia’s commitment as a regional and international leader by conducting targeted and careful advocacy of efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking and slavery, including child and forced marriage.

Recommendation 9

6.43 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government continues and enhances its engagement in bilateral and multilateral dialogues to eliminate child and forced marriage.

Senator the Hon David Fawcett Chair Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade 1 December 2021

The Hon Kevin Andrews MP Chair Human Rights Sub-Committee 1 December 2021

69

A. Submissions

1 Family Planning NSW

2 Anti-Slavery Australia

3 Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)

4 Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force

 4.1 Supplementary to submission 4

5 Walk Free

 5.1 Supplementary to submission 5

6 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 6.1 Supplementary to submission 6  6.2 Supplementary to submission 6

7 Australian Federal Police

71

B. Exhibits

The following exhibits were provided to the Committee by Anti-Slavery Australia:

1 Simmons & Burn, ‘Without consent: forced marriage in Australia,’ MULR 2013.

2 Heli Askola, ‘Responding to Vulnerability - Forced marriage and the law’, 41 UNSWLJ 977, published 2018.

3 Khatidja Chantler, ‘Recognition of and Intervention in Forced Marriage as a Form of Violence and Abuse’, Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 13(3), published 2012

4 Lisa V. Martin, ‘Restraining Forced Marriage’, Nevada Law Journal, published 2018

5 Alexia Sabbe et al, ‘Forced marriage: an analysis of legislation and political measures in Europe’, Crime, Law and Social Change, published 2014

6 Rights of Women, ‘“This is not my Destiny”: Reflecting on responses to forced marriage in England and Wales’, published 2014

7 Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, ‘Marrying Young: An exploratory study of young Muslim women’s decision-making around early marriage’, published 2017

8 Australian Red Cross, ‘Forced marriage: community voices, stories and strategies. Consultation with community’, Initial report prepared for the National Roundtable on human trafficking and slavery, 2019

9 UK Home Office, ‘Forced Marriage - a consultation Summary of responses’, published 2012

10 UK Forced Marriage Unit statistics report for 2020

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11 UK Forced Marriage Unit statistics report for 2019

73

C. Hearings

Friday, 18 June 2021 - Canberra

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 Ms Alison Chartres, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Division  Dr Robert Christie, Assistant Secretary, Educational Social Protection and Human Development Finance Branch  Ms Julie-Ann Guivarra, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Assistant

Secretary Gender Equality Branch  Ms Lucienne Manton, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, People Smuggling and Human Trafficking Branch  Dr Mary Ellen Miller, Assistant Secretary, Human Rights Policy and

Social Inclusion Branch

Australian Border Force and Department of Home Affairs

 Ms Jodie Bjerregaard, Assistant Secretary Family Visas, Department of Home Affairs  Ms Frances Finney, PSM, Assistant Secretary Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, Australian Border Force  Ms Vanessa Holben, Group Manager Deputy Comptroller-General

Customs, Australian Border Force

Australian Federal Police

 Ms Lesa Gale, Assistant Commissioner Northern Command, Australian Federal Police  Ms Hilda Sirec, Commander, Northern Command Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

74 ADVOCATING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD AND FORCED MARRIAGE

Walk Free

 Ms Grace Forrest, Founding Director  The Hon Lisa Singh, Head of Government Advocacy

Anti-Slavery Australia

 Professor Jennifer Burn, Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney  Ms Sandeep Dhillon, Lawyer, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)

 Mrs Megan Bourke, Community Worker, Forced Marriage Team  Ms Christine Carolan, Executive Officer  Sister Clare Condon, National Committee Member  Ms Elizabeth Morris, Australian Capital Territory Committee Member

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 - Canberra

Australian Border Force

 Ms Frances Finney, PSM, Assistant Secretary, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking  Ms Vanessa Holben, Group Manager; Deputy Comptroller-General, Customs