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PROMOTING MULTICULTURALISM, ETHNIC AFFAIRS, CULTURAL DIVERSITY, COMMUNITY UNITY AND HARMONY IN ONE OF THE MOST CULTURALLY DIVERSE STATES OF THE WORLD, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND SLAVERY HAVE MANY FACES
10 December 2013
The exploitation of people frequently happens in family homes and businesses, according to a new independent NSW inquiry that breaks down some of the myths regarding human trafficking and slavery.
The Inquiry, which investigated the exploitation of people through trafficking in all its forms, was conducted by the Community Relations Commission of New South Wales (CRC).
It found exploitation continues to involve women in the sex industry, but that forced marriages and labour exploitation also occur.
Releasing the report, the Chair of the CRC, Stepan Kerkyasharian, said the findings break down the myth that the problem only affects women when in fact men and children are also victims.
"In many cases the perpetrators do not have to resort to any form of duress," he said.
"They set the scene for the victim to become a prisoner of their own mind. That is the absolute form f humiliation and denigration of a person."
Mr Kerkyasharian, who headed the Inquiry, highlighted some of the disturbing issues that had been brought to the attention of the Inquiry: Women brought to Australia through marriage and held in slave-like conditions; students employed to work as nannies and denied their liberty and wages; men brought out on 457 visas required to perform unskilled labour for long hours with below award pay and; men migrating to work as sporting boxers enslaved and made to participate in illegal and unsafe fights.
"This is a sad catalogue of human behaviour which crosses many communities and individuals in NSW," Mr Kerkyasharian said.
"I was disturbed that some victims were too afraid to appear and speak directly to the Inquiry, for fear of the consequences.
"This kind of exploitation, which by its nature is underreported, is demeaning and a brutal violation of human dignity. It has many different faces and more must be done to help victims."
One of the key findings involves the service response in NSW, which the Inquiry found needed to be expanded so that victims can receive coordinated support. Currently, there is a low level of awareness among agencies and the community about the problem and how to deal with it when people come into contact with someone who has been trafficked.
As a first step, the Inquiry recommends that NSW create its own policy – including a ministerial level Human Trafficking Advisory Council – to enable a more coordinated response to human trafficking.
The Inquiry acknowledged that key initiatives to deal with trafficking fall within federal responsibility. At the same time, the state government response is critical because services, including in the areas of health and housing, are the 'front line' for victims.
While the number of identified trafficked victims is small in Australia, by its nature it is an under-reported crime. In 2011-12, the then Department of Immigration and Citizenship referred 31 reports of possible people trafficking, involving 26 possible victims, to the Australian Federal Police for assessment.
On the issue of forced marriages, the Inquiry found that it was not always possible to draw a clear distinction between arranged and forced marriages. Forced marriage caused confusion, according to the report, "particularly as it is often conflated with arranged marriages that are traditionally practised by some communities".
The Inquiry also heard that some international students were exploited in situations of forced labour.
Other recommendations from the Inquiry include:
- Introducing a national scheme for victims compensation so that payments are consistent.
- Providing teachers and other education professionals with resources to detect and prevent forced or underage marriages. This could include a phone app like the Aurora domestic violence app and religious leaders taking the lead to uphold the Australian Values Statement.
The Inquiry was overseen by a committee consisting of:
- Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian AO, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Relations Commission (Committee Chair)
- Associate Professor Jennifer Burn, Faculty of Law University of Technology, Sydney; Director, Anti-Slavery Australia
- Dr Sverre Molland, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra
- Dr Eman Sharobeem, CRC Commissioner; Manager, Immigrant Women's Health Service
Man of the Century
6 December 2013
The Chair of the Community Relations Commission of New South Wales, Stepan Kerkyasharian, has added his voice to the flood of international praise for the life of Nelson Mandela.
"I remember nominating him in a newspaper survey in 1999 as the man of the century.
"His humanity stood in stark contrast to the decades of inhumanity witnessed around the globe in the 20th Century.
"Two world wars, nuclear weapons, the ideological wars, the emergence of terrorism, famine and genocide characterised the century.
"Nelson Mandela stood out as a beacon of hope for all peoples. He delivered for his own people of South Africa whilst inspiring everyone, everywhere.
"He taught us to rise above the personal to promote the harmonious co-existence of people of different races without a hint of bitterness of past personal suffering.
"Long may his influence last!" Mr Kerkyasharian concluded.
ANNUAL DELEGATION FROM JAPAN HOLDS TALK AT CRC HEAD OFFICE
25 November 2013
Front row: Hideo Abe, Interpreter, Misa Hirasawa, CLAIR Centre Sydney, Stepan Kerkyasharian CRC Chair, Hitomi Arai, Satomi Fujito, Chiaki Sugimoto, Maiko Sakaguchi,
Back row: Julien Ansart CLAIR Centre Sydney, Richard Acheson CRC, Shuntaro Jojima, Ryoichi Ichihara, Katsuaki Imazu, Aya Uchigaki
The annual delegation from Japan organised by CLAIR – the Japan Local Government Centre visited the CRC Head Office in Sydney for discussions about multiculturalism and cultural diversity.
The participants have a strong interest in multiculturalism, and are professionals employed in various roles in government across Japan.
CLAIR is a semi-government organisation created by Japanese Local Government to help with their internationalisation. Among other things, Sydney CLAIR centre oversees Sister City Relationships and assists Japanese Local Government delegations on their visits to Australia.
NEW FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BARTON VISITS THE COMMISSION
26 November 2013
C.R.C. Chair, Stepan Kerkyasharian(left) with Nikolas Varvaris, federal MP for Barton
The recently elected Member of Federal Parliament for the Sydney electorate of Barton, Nickolas Varvaris visited the Head Office of the Community Relations Commission in Sydney to discuss community harmony.
He met with Commission Chair, Stepan Kerkyasharian who said Mr Varvaris has the task of representing electors from a very broad range of ethnic backgrounds living in Barton in southern Sydney.
CONDOLENCES FOR THE PHILIPPINES
14 November 2013
The Chair of the Community Relations Commission of NSW, Stepan Kerkyasharian, has sent a message of condolence to the Consul General of the Philippines in Sydney, Ms Anne Jalando-on Louis.
"The Filipino community of New South Wales is successful, well-settled and respected across our society. I am sure many of them will know people who have suffered in this current tragedy. Others will simply feel the pain of knowing that people just like them are facing such horrible circumstances and will want to help", he said.
The text of Mr Kerkyasharian's letter to the Consul General is as follows:
On behalf of the all of us at the Community Relations Commission I extend to you and through you to the people of the Philippines and the Filipino Community in NSW, deep felt condolences for the catastrophic tragedy which fell on the people of Tacloban City.
Our thoughts go out to them and to our fellow Australians who have lost their loved ones.
We share their pain and sorrow wishing a speedy recovery to those injured and pray for strength to all who are sharing the painful task of rebuilding.
Stepan Kerkyasharian AO
Community Relations Commission