WA Events Raise Awareness about Forced Marriage

WA Forced Marriage Conference Presenters

March 12th to 15th 2019 provided four days of events in WA to raise awareness and educate over 300 frontline responders, service organisations, government and non-government organisations, members of the clergy and members of the education community of Perth and beyond.

On Tuesday 12th March, 120 members of 61 organisations came together for the WA Inaugural Forced Marriage Conference held at the Newman Siena Centre. The Conference was collaboratively planned by 7 agencies: ACRATH, the AFP (Australian Federal Police), the Red Cross, ASA (Anti-Slavery Australia), JEDO (Justice, Ecology and Development Office – Archdiocese of Perth), Women and Newborn Health Service and the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services. One of the strengths on which to build this initiative is the commitment that agencies have to working together for the well-being of individuals and community groups in WA. Kathy Fagan, ACRATH WA Coordinator, has worked tirelessly to link agencies on human trafficking and modern slavery work for many years now, and this event’s success illuminated her substantial work with other agencies.

The Conference provided an opportunity for sharing information and understanding, for identifying WA support services who may be able to assist those in, or at risk of, forced marriage, and for strategically planning a way to work collaboratively to address the needs of those who are vulnerable to this practice within communities. The Intending the capacity of organisations and individuals to respond to those in, or at risk of, forced ?marriage in the broader sector, identifying risk factors, recognising indicators, establishing common Referral Pathways and ways to work collaboratively, and to inaugurate a WA Forced Marriage Network.

A great deal of positive feedback was received from participants, with the WA Forced Marriage Network to commence within the next three months. The information gathered during the day, in relation to mapping existing services and identifying gaps and challenges will drive the work of the Network in its beginning stages. ACRATH is grateful to the Newman Siena Centre for providing a

fantastic venue for the Conference, and to the members of ACRATH WA who assisted in preparations, hospitality and Registration in the lead up to, and on the day of, the Conference – Kaye Bolwell, Carol Mitchell, Rosa Ranieri, Kereth Harris, Regina O’Neill, Jenni Kastropil and Catherine O’Connor.

On Wednesday 13th March ACRATH, Anti-Slavery Australia and the Australian Federal Police co-presented for a group of 20 clergy. The event – A Seminar on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Challenges and Implications – was organised by Deacon Greg Lowe of WACMRO (West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office). The Seminar provided an opportunity to explore hu

man trafficking and modern slavery, Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, forced marriage and challenges to be faced as we move forward in WA. The Seminar was highly engaging and the members of the clergy attending actively involved themselves in the presentations and opportunities for dialogue. Further work with clergy will take place later this year.

On Thursday 14th March ACRATH and Anti-Slavery Australia, together with the Red Cross, facilitated an Education Seminar for members of school communities and

education sector authorities. The purpose of the Seminar was to help to build the capacity of schools and educators to protect and support students who may be vulnerable to forced marriage. Twenty participants joined the Seminar.

Thursday 14th March also saw 140 teachers of Mercy College in Koondoola provided with an after-school professional learning session provided by ACRATH. The focus of the session was Forced Marriage Awareness-raising and Education: Protection and Prevention strategies.

On Friday 15th March members of ACRATH met with Keith McNaught, Regional Director -Mission Integration WA, St John of God Health Care. A session was planned on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery to be implemented with Mission Directors of St John of God Health Care on 10th April. Fantastic feedback was received. Well done Kathy Fagan, Rosa Ranieri and Kaye Bolwell.