In Australia, multiple government agencies are tasked with the implementation, execution, and administration of Australia’s policy on trafficking in persons.  This website maps the existing arrangements and provides a short overview of the ‘who is who’ in Australia’s official anti-trafficking efforts, outlining the key agencies and their anti-trafficking mandate, and the coordination between them.

Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee

Australia’s anti-trafficking efforts are overseen and, to some degree, coordinated by the national Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee, which has been in operation since March 2003.[1]  Chaired by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, this Committee brings together all the federal government agencies with some involvement in preventing and suppressing trafficking in persons in Australia and, through the foreign affairs and development portfolios, overseas.  The Committee is tasked with developing and monitoring the implementation of the Australia’s Anti People-Trafficking Strategy, reporting annually on outcomes, achievements and development, and with ensuring that emerging issues are addressed on a ‘whole-of-government’ basis.

Federal Government Agencies involved in Anti-Trafficking Measures

Attorney-General’s Department

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department leads the whole-of-government strategy against trafficking in persons and chairs the Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee.  The Attorney-General’s Department also coordinates the so-called National Roundtable on People Trafficking, a consultative mechanism between the Australian Government and NGOs on trafficking issues.  Furthermore, the Department is responsible for monitoring and developing relevant anti-trafficking laws, certain processes under the People Trafficking Visa Framework, developing and implementing the Australian Government’s Communication Awareness Strategy, administering the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth), and in providing funding to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to combat trafficking, support victims and raise awareness.[2]

Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

AusAID is responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid program.  AusAID supports a range of specific anti-trafficking programs in Southeast Asia aimed at capacity building, law enforcement cooperation, and protection of support of victims of trafficking in persons. 

Australian Crime Commission

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC), formerly the National Crime Authority, is a cross-jurisdictional statutory authority to combat serious and organised crime.  In addition to its core staff, the ACC has a great number of personnel seconded from federal, State and Territory law enforcement agencies.  In the context of trafficking in persons, the ACC plays a comparatively small role by providing intelligence, investigation, and criminal database services.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is the principal agency involved in monitoring and controlling the cross-border movement of goods and people.  The agency also provides frontline immigration control services, including immigration and passport checks at border control points at Australia’s airports and seaports on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.  In this capacity, Customs may be involved in the identification of potential trafficking cases and works closely with the AFP and DIAC in order to achieve this aim.

Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is Australia’s premier federal law enforcement agency and as such the main authority responsible for the investigation of trafficking in persons.  Since 2004, the AFP has established dedicated anti-trafficking investigation teams in several state capitals.  The teams were initially established under the Action Plan to Eradicate People Trafficking and, up until June 2011, operated under the name Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (TSETT).  The TSETTs consisted of a 23-person strike team, bringing together investigators and specialist analysts to target trafficking in people.  Around the same time, the AFP also developed a specialist investigations and training program covering legislation, investigation methodologies, trafficking trends, intelligence targeting, and victim liaison.[3]  On June 1, 2011, the TSETTs became the Human Trafficking Teams (HTT) ‘to better reflect the full spectrum of people trafficking offences.’[4]  A National Coordinator based in Canberra oversees the three teams based in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. 

Australian Institute of Criminology

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), a statutory government agency based in Canberra, has been mandated by the Australian Government to monitor trafficking in persons.  The AIC has engaged in research on the topic of trafficking in persons since the late 1990s and has an extensive record of publications, presentations, seminars, and roundtables in this field.  In 2007, the AIC officially began the government funded ‘Trafficking in Persons Research Program’.[5] 

Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) is responsible for prosecuting federal offences, including those relating to trafficking in persons under Divisions 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code (Cth).

Department of Immigration and Citizenship

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) controls and manages Australia’s immigration and visa systems.  Under the People Trafficking Visa Framework, DIAC can also grant visas to victims of trafficking and thus enable them to access the Support for Trafficked People Program.  The Department has immigration compliance teams in every Australian capital city and individual compliance officers in a number of overseas ports.  In Sydney and Melbourne, DIAC's compliance teams focus specifically on trafficking-related issues in the sex industry.  If DIAC officers become aware of a suspected case of trafficking in persons, the case will be referred to the AFP.  A designated referral protocol between DIAC and the AFP clarifies roles, responsibilities, and procedures in handling these matters.[6]

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has three roles in relation to trafficking in persons: an operational role in relation to passports; an operational role in relation to providing consular assistance to victims or perpetrators of trafficking abroad; and advice on the development, implementation and application of multilateral and bilateral treaties/agreements.[7]  DFAT also plays a part in the ongoing development and implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and is represented on a number of regional and international committees to foster collaboration in this field.

Commonwealth Office for Women

The Commonwealth Office for Women is a branch of the federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).  Its role in Australia’s anti-trafficking efforts is largely a supervisory one insofar as it funds and oversees the Support for Trafficked People Program, which is administered by the Australian Red Cross.[8]

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman is responsible for providing education, assistance, and advice about Australia’s workplace relations system.  It also has an enforcement function which may bring the Fair Work Ombudsman in contact with cases of trafficking in persons, which would then be referred to the AFP for further investigation.  The Fair Work Ombudsman has the power to investigate underpayment or non-payment of wages and entitlements, and order employers to pay their employees any monetary entitlements they are owed and/or compensation for loss suffered.[9] 


[1] ANAO, Management of the Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons (2009) 37–38 [2.2].
[2] AFP, Anti-Human Trafficking Community Resource (2011) 1415.
[3] Australian Government, Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons (2004) 10.
[4] Anti-People Trafficking Interdepartmental Committee, Trafficking in Persons: The Australian Government’s Response 1 July 2010–30 June 2011 (2011) 11.
[5] The research activities of the AIC are further outlined in Section VIII.6.2 below.
[6] F David, Trafficking of Women for Sexual Purposes (2008) 13.
[7] AFP, Anti-Human Trafficking Community Resource (2011) 20.
[8] See further, Section VII.3.1 below.
[9] AFP, Anti-Human Trafficking Community Resource (2011) 27-28.  See further, Section VII.6 below.