A Witness of ACRATH Advocacy


Nicky Friedman saw first-hand the long-term advocacy and commitment needed during some of ACRATH’s modern slavery legal battles. As Head of Pro Bono and Community Engagement with Allens, a leading international law firm, Nicky and her team have supported ACRATH for more than a decade.

In July Nicky and her colleague, Emma Fitzgerald, will not be providing support on the law but rather on the ground, joining the Friends of ACRATH team walking 5km in Run Melbourne2024. The long relationship between Allens and ACRATH has made a difference to the lives of many people trafficked into Australia.

Allens first took on cases of Victims of Crime Assistance for six women who had been trafficked into sex work. All the women were being supported by ACRATH at the time. After some very careful legal work and some significant legal advocacy, all six women were awarded the maximum payment from the Tribunal.

“Back then I was very aware of human trafficking globally, but less aware of the issues in Australia. The six cases involved working closely with ACRATH and other relevant experts including Australian Federal Police, barristers, and Professor Jennifer Burn from Anti-Slavery Australia, examining all the legal options for representing them,” Nicky said.

“This was a big piece of work, which took a long time and a lot of resources. The six cases ran over three years. Each of the women received a modest financial settlement.”

Nicky recalls the courage of each woman and the passion and commitment of the many ACRATH staff and volunteers who supported the women through their ordeal.

“It was a difficult process for the women, and they demonstrated such courage in being willing to participate in the proceedings and tell their stories. ACRATH provided extraordinary, non-judgemental support and kept a clear focus always on what was best for the women,” Nicky said.

Fast forward a few years and Allens, through their Brisbane team, provided pro bono support for 22 men from Vanuatu who had been robbed of their wages. After a four-year battle the 22 men, who were exploited on farms in Queensland when they came to work as part of the Seasonal Worker Program, each received an Act of Grace payment.

“Again, I witnessed this fascinating model of engagement. No judgement of the men, just a commitment by ACRATH to serve the people they are supporting. And these things take years; the wheels of justice move slowly with stops and starts, course corrections and personnel changes. This is normal for us in the legal world but not easy for others and yet ACRATH’s religious and lay members continue their respectful support of the clients and maintain the momentum,” Nicky said.

Allens continues to provide pro bono support to ACRATH.

Good luck Nicky and Emma!

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