Issue 16
Dec 2019
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 Newsletter from Victoria Australia

Raising Awareness                   Taking Action
(This RAG is not an agency of or controlled by, Rotary International)

Dear <<First Name>>

The 2019-2020 Rotary year has seen the change of leadership within the Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery with Dave McCleary from the Roswell Rotary Club in Atlanta Georgia, D6900, succeeding Mark Little as Chair, and Simon John from the Rotary Club of Thetford, UK, D1080, taking over from Harry Payne as Secretary. Again, we acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of Mark and Harry over the past 10 years (Mark is remaining on the RAGAS Board). With the new leadership team, we will see some great initiatives stemming from a new RAGAS 5 Year Strategic Plan, including a new website and on-line resources available to RAGAS members. More details to follow. There is also a new-look RAGAS Newsletter edited by long-time RAGAS member Carol Metzker.

As we recognize the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on 2nd December, we are dismayed to read in the press of the apparent failures in the monitoring of overseas money transactions by some of the major Australian banks, especially Westpac, which has helped facilitate trafficking and on-line child sexual abuse of children in countries such as the Philippines. We are encouraged that Westpac has acknowledged their failures and are partnering with IJM, the Australian Government and the Finance Industry to help address this terrible crime.

Also in this Newsletter, is an item on a pilot campaign at Sydney airport by the AFP to raise awareness of forced marriage, an emerging issue in Australia in the fight against modern slavery.

Plus information on two projects in Nepal and Myanmar in which the Operation End Slavery committee of the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central partnered with Tear Australia and International Needs Australia respectively to obtain funding from local and overseas Rotary Clubs and the Rotary Foundation to provide anti-trafficking and child rights awareness education and trainer-training in the local communities. 

Thank you for your support in 2019 and I wish all our readers a safe and slavery-free Christmas and look forward to 2020 and further progress towards ending global modern slavery once and for all.

Tony Stokes
Rotary Club of Box Hill Central D9810     
RAGAS Executive Board Member
RAGAS Coordinator for Victoria, Australia      

Thankyou to the Rotary Foundation through District 9810 for supporting two End Slavery District International Grants through Rotary Club of Box Hill Central with generous support from  RC of Mannigham, RC of Woden Daybreak, and Peter Banwell, RC Leighton Linslade, UK.
Project Harmony (Nepal) with TEAR Australia:
Child Rights/Child Protection (Myanmar) with International Needs Australia:
How reducing the demand for online sexual exploitation of children through improving financial scrutiny of suspicious transactions, will help reduce the supply. 

Technology companies also urged to always to keep in mind protection of vulnerable children when they are designing their products.

Read "Westpac scandal: a 12-year-old girl, online sexual exploitation and lax financial rules":

Westpac anounces it is undertaking a series of immediate actions and investments to reduce the human impact of financial crime

  • Funding for the International Justice Mission (IJM): Westpac will match IJM's current level of funding, investing $18 million over three years to tackle Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) in the Philippines. This will enable IJM to expand on-the-ground initiatives in Southeast Asia to help end child exploitation.
  • Funding for SaferKidsPH: Westpac will match the Australian Government's current level of funding for its SaferKidsPH partnership with Save the Children, UNICEF and The Asia Foundation, investing $6 million over six years to raise awareness of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) and support programs to protect children in the Philippines.
  • Prevention: Westpac will seek the guidance of industry experts, through the convening of an expert advisory roundtable, to develop a program of actions to support the prevention of online child exploitation. Westpac will provide funding of up to $10 million per year for three years to implement these recommendations.
For multilingual resources and support for forced marriage see:

Red Cross:
My Blue Sky:

Sydney Airport with AFP and Anti-Slavery Australia launches Forced Marriage Awareness pilot campaign:
RAGAS Newsletter 93
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Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery · 8 Sheeehans Rd · BLACKBURN, Vic 3130 · Australia

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