Presentation Sisters working against trafficking in humans
National Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH Meeting)
20-22 February 2012
Three Presentation Sisters were among thirty-one people from over seventeen religious orders along with several lay women who gathered in Templestowe, Victoria, to discuss ongoing action in work against human trafficking.
The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity to celebrate activities undertaken in the past year, to receive educational information and to plan national and state action for 2012.
Among the events to celebrate, a few were:
- Canberra visit to over 100 MPs, department personnel and embassy staff by 12 ACRATH members with significant results, e.g. ongoing funding for action to assist trafficked people.
- FAIRTRADE campaigns supported or initiated with anti-trafficking partners: FAIRTRADE chocolate, FAIRTRADE cotton from Uzbekistan, slave-free seafood from Thailand. The FAIRTRADE chocolate campaign in Australia has successfully persuaded Cadbury, Nestlé and Mars to begin importing ethically produced cocoa from West Africa.
- Over 30 awareness-raising presentations made each six months – leading to fundraising, volunteer registrations and the distribution of thousands of postcards promoting FAIRTRADE chocolate.
- ACRATH members accompanying six trafficked women in their journey of healing.
In the evening of day one after sharing information on the different types of presentations made to a wide variety of groups, e.g. University, Muslim girls, Co-educational students and teachers in schools, we viewed the movie Trafficked – The Reckoning and held a fair trade chocolate fondue party.
The next day began with a reflection followed by brainstorming in small groups on ACRATH’s strategic objectives for the next three years:
- Community awareness-raising
- Direct service
- Networking to form alliances to achieve change through advocacy service.
The results of brainstorming were used later by State groups to plan action for 2012.
This was followed by a fascinating insight into the experience of trafficking in one woman’s story from the Philippines, as shared with us by Marietta (social worker from Cebu) and Angela (rsm). The resilience, courage and determination of “Daisy” to heal was truly inspirational.
Working groups gathered in the afternoon to discuss a variety of issues: CALD work, presentations, Fairtrade chocolate sales, compensation for victims of trafficking and involving young people in ACRATH.
The evening was given to listening to a panel speaking on international experiences; from PNG, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand to being effective at the UN.
On the final morning, business was dealt with: Maree Marsh (Brigidine) was elected Chairperson and Shane Wood was elected Treasurer. At the completion of business, State groups met to prioritise their strategic planning for 2012 and report back on these to the large group. The meeting concluded with a gentle reflection.
The benefit of attending the AGM is enormous: the commitment and focus of such a mixed group of like-minded people is inspirational and energising. The dedication and enthusiasm is truly encouraging as State groups continue working against human trafficking, especially in Australia, Asia and the Pacific.