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Human Trafficking to Australia: A Research Challenge

NCJ Number
Judy Putt
Date Published
June 2007
6 pages
This paper summarizes current evidence on trafficking to Australia and within the wider region, highlights constraints that exist when attempting to interpret what this evidence says about the problem, and concludes with recommendations for further investment into research and monitoring.
The picture of trafficking remains very unclear with competing claims about the extent and nature of trafficking to Australia. Although some research has been undertaken in various source countries, primarily in the Mekong area, there is little known about the Pacific region and whether various forms of human trafficking, including labor exploitation, are an emerging issue. The reasons for this lack of knowledge are not peculiar to Australia. Better estimates of numbers and flows involve systematic and well-documented collection of data from a variety of sources, on an ongoing basis of agreed core items, across regions and by stakeholders within countries. Filling in the gaps means that multidisciplinary studies are required into patterns of trafficking, into the organization of trafficking and of perpetrators, and into good practice in victim support and criminal justice responses. There needs to be a concerted effort to increase the methodological rigor and transparency in trafficking research. More could be done to improve existing data sources and to systematically learn from known trafficking cases that will help identify effective practices to detect trafficking and support victims. Also, innovative and exploratory research is required to ascertain whether there are hidden incidents involving, for example, males for the purposes of labor exploitation from nearby countries that could emerge as future flows and patterns in human trafficking to Australia. It is argued that there is a need to be aware of trends, internationally and in the region, to ensure early warning of activities that could impact on the level and type of trafficking to Australia, and to ensure the most effective responses to prevent and detect trafficking are provided. References