UNDA students bring human trafficking issues to light

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 14-9-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



"This is an issue above politics. We can do all sorts of political point-scoring, but this really is an issue where the three major parties all agree that we do need to get together as 'government' and do something to try and combat this insidious trade." Senator Michaelia Cash

Increasing awareness of the destructive nature of human trafficking was at the heart of a public event hosted recently at The University of Notre Dame Australia's (UNDA) Fremantle Campus.

The Notre Dame Students for Social Justice (NDSSJ) and the UNDA Liberal Club collaborated to host the screening of the Australian film 'The Jammed' which tells the true story of three women trafficked into Australia.

The often confronting film highlights the increasing activity of people trafficking around Australia for both domestic and sexual servitude.

People trafficking has been defined by the Australian Government as the physical movement of human beings across borders through deceptive means, coercion or force for various exploitative purposes.

The special screening was launched by Liberal Senator for WA Michaelia Cash, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Status of Women. Ms Cash is a passionate advocate in the fight against trafficking. The Hon Lynn MacLaren MLC, Greens Member for South Metropolitan Region, was also in attendance.

"Trafficking of women for sexual servitude is one of the most complex international crimes you will ever come across because the stakes are so high - in the billions of dollars," Senator Cash said.

"Our reality is that our country is officially recognised as a destination for trafficking of women from Asia, and in particular from China, Thailand and Korea."

In addition to profiling the important issue, the event also provided an opportunity to promote a new Perth-based initiative, Project Jenny.

Project Jenny is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to combat human trafficking in Western Australia. It has identified a number of initiatives including establishing the first safe house in the State to provide rehabilitation for victims of trafficking..

The fledgling group also intends to collaborate with organisations around the world to develop and implement initiatives which will reduce the demand of trafficking through the promotion of education and awareness programs.

Project Jenny was established in honour of the founder Chanteya Macphail's older sister who was snatched from their mother while on holiday in Phuket, Thailand, in 1976. Jenny was just three-years-old when she was taken.

Ms Macphail and her family believe Jenny was the victim of experienced people traffickers.

"To be able to have a safe house where skilled and trained staff are equipped to deal with the needs of these women will be fantastic," Ms Macphail said.

President of the NDSSJ, Anne-Marie O'Neil, said future cases of human trafficking could be prevented if more people and political groups were made aware of how the trade destroyed lives.

"By the Grace of God we were lucky enough to be born here in Australia and the chances of us becoming victims of human trafficking are low, but we are all human beings and we need to do whatever we can to help those who are victims of this horrific trade," Ms O'Neil said.

"Written on the wall of our office at Notre Dame is our motto, 'never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, because it's the only thing that ever has'.

"We run these events with the hope that every person we educate and every dollar we raise is another step towards changing the lives of these people."

Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138
Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093