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Inquiry into human trafficking

1. Human trafficking, including slavery, slavery-like practices and people trafficking offences, are contrary to international law, often target highly vulnerable victims, and involve significant breaches of human rights. The Law Council welcomes all efforts to prevent such practices and considers that Australia’s response to these issues should reflect international best practice and be consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations. 

2. Since 2003, successive Commonwealth Governments have progressively implemented a number of legislative and policy initiatives to ensure that Australia adequately responds to human trafficking. The Law Council has welcomed these developments, but considers that the Government should take a human rights approach to all efforts to prevent and combat these offences, and to protect, assist and provide redress to victims. 

3. The Law Council has restricted its submission to the following Terms of Reference: 

• the role and effectiveness of Commonwealth law enforcement agencies in responding to human trafficking; 

• practical measures and policies that would address human trafficking; 

• the involvement of organised crime, including transnational organised crime, in human trafficking; and 

• the effectiveness of relevant Commonwealth legislation and policies. 

4. The Law Council makes a number of recommendations to the Committee, including those that it has previously recommended to Parliamentary inquiries, such as the establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims of these offences. The Law Council considers that it is imperative that the Government continue and improve its support for and work in these areas, in order to adequately address human trafficking, including slavery, slavery-like practices and people trafficking. 

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