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Freedom Partnership influences policy on forced marriage

Freedom Partnership influences policy on forced marriage

Freedom Partnership influences policy on forced marriage

18 June 2018

Jenny Stanger, National Manager of The Salvation Army's Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, speaking at a press conference with representatives from The Australian Labor Party and several non-government organisations.

By Simone Worthing

The Salvation Army Freedom Partnership’s policy recommendations on forced marriage have formed part of the Australian Labor Party’s response to this growing criminal issue.

Speaking at The Salvation Army’s Redfern Headquarters in Sydney on 8 June, Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and Clare O’Neil MP, announced that, should Labor win the next federal election, the party will adopt all of the Freedom Partnership policy recommendations on forced marriage as part of their response.

Jenny Stanger, Freedom Partnership National Manager, also spoke at the Redfern press conference on 8 June. She was joined by leaders of other non-government organisations including Laura Vidal from Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Jennifer Burn from Anti-Slavery Australia, and sister Deirdre Gardiner from ACRATH (Australia Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).

“[This] announcement reflects our experiences of supporting people affected by forced marriage for the past 10 years,” said Jenny.
“It is a complex issue requiring a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder approach accompanied by meaningful resources. We thank the Australia Labor Party for this commitment and encourage the current government to consider implementing these same measures as soon as possible.”

Tanya Plibersek announcing the ALP's adoption of the Freedom Partnership's recommendations.

These measures include:
· Overhauling Australia’s response to forced marriage – an abuse of human rights that create a structure through which subjugation, abuse and sexual assault can occur over decades. There is a need to focus on preventing harm and abuse from occurring and supporting the vulnerable victims of this appalling practice.

· Forced marriage protection orders that will provide civil protection against forced marriage for all victims – no matter their age. Similar orders have been successfully introduced in the United Kingdom and give courts power to prohibit families from forcing their children to marry, prevent people at risk of forced marriage from being taken overseas against their will, and order that young people be allowed to continue with their education free from harm. Although a Forced Marriage Protection Order will be a civil protection, breach of such an order will be a criminal offence.

· Funding for civil society to help stamp out the human rights abuse of forced marriage. This will include additional funding over the forward estimates for organisations that work to detect and prevent forced marriage, human trafficking and slavery. Additional funding for a grants program to provide discrete projects run by smaller organisations to address forced marriage, will also be available.

· Improved support for victims that expand access to Commonwealth support for victims of forced marriage and vulnerable people at risk of forced marriage. This includes removing the requirement that victims must agree to cooperate with law enforcement in order to access government-funded support.

· National leadership of a coordinated national response to combatting the practice of forced marriage. This includes establishing a Forced Marriage Unit to provide: a one-stop shop to connect victims to support services and government agencies; assistance for Australians who have been taken overseas to be married against their will.

This measure will also include working with state and territory governments to pursue: national mandatory reporting obligations for forced marriage and; nationally consistent forced marriage training for law enforcement.

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