Health and community services for trafficked women: An exploratory study of policy and practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Social Issues, 2011, 46 (4), pp. 391 - 410
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The trafficking of women has attracted considerable international and national policy attention, particularly since the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000), of which the Australian Government has been a signatory since 2005. The provision of health and community services for trafficked women is a central feature of this Protocol, but in Australia service provision is made difficult by how trafficked women are understood and treated in policy and legal terms. This study aimed to explore the provision of health and community services for trafficked women in the Greater Sydney region through a series of interviews with government and non-government organisations. The findings reveal that services have been inaccessible as a result of sparse, uncoordinated, and poorly funded provision. The major obstacle to adequate and appropriate service provision has been a national policy approach focusing on 'border protection' and criminalisation rather than on trafficked women and their human rights. We conclude that further policy development needs to focus on the practical implications of how such rights can be translated into the delivery of health and community services that trafficked women can access and be supported by more effectively.
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