Trafficking in persons constitutes a serious violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms.  Most victims of trafficking are traumatised by the physical, psychological, and/or sexual violence to which they have been subjected.  Some victims may require medical treatment and psychological counselling.  Many have no place to stay in Australia and no means of support upon their return to their home country and may be stigmatised and rejected by their families.  They are generally in need of accommodation, financial assistance, education, and vocational training programs, as well as assistance with finding employment.  Without this support, victims are vulnerable to being re-trafficked or facing further harm.

Many victims of trafficking in persons fear intimidation and retaliation if they cooperate with law enforcement agencies or testify in court.  These fears are particularly acute when there is a close relationship between the victim and the offender, or when the offender is part of a criminal organisation.  This fear of intimidation or retaliation is often linked to a distrust of government officials, law enforcement, and the judiciary.  Many victims also fear maltreatment by government authorities, deportation, or other potential risks to their physical safety.

For these reasons, policies and laws should be in place to address the harm done to victims, and to prevent further traumatisation and victimisation.  In order to successfully prosecute traffickers, law enforcement must implement victim-sensitive policies to allay the fears of trafficked victims and to ensure their safety.  Although the setting-up of appropriate assistance and protection measures may be expensive, ‘addressing the social, educational, psychological and other needs of victims as soon as they are discovered may ultimately prove less costly than dealing with them at a later stage.’[1]