'Good Conversations' focus on Forced Marriage

Inequality at the heart of it

Forced Marriage

Around the world, 650 million women were married as children, and without consent. And we know that early and forced marriage is an emerging issue in Australia. It affects families across our community and has a disproportionate and long-term impact on women and girls.

Photo L-R: Jenny Stanger (The Salvation Army, Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery), Anita Morris (Office of Professional Practice, Department of Health and Human Services), Stella Avramopoulos (Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand), Gillian Triggs (The University of Melbourne), Laura Vidal (Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand), Michal Morris (inTouch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence).

In Australia

  • Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and is against the law in Australia.

  • A marriage is forced if it is entered into without free and full consent. It is different to arranged marriage, which is a legal practice where both parties freely consent to the marriage.

  • Victims and perpetrators of forced marriage are not limited to any particular cultural group, religion or ethnicity

  • Forced marriage is harmful and can result in violence, isolation, servitude, imprisonment, mental health problems, even death

Forced marriage was criminalised in Australia as a practice of slavery under the Commonwealth Criminal Code in 2013. However, the true extent of forced marriage in Australia is unknown as available data is not comprehensive. Over the last five years, the Australian Federal Police have investigated over 170 cases of alleged forced marriage. This number is only the tip of the iceberg.

Good Conversations forum

The first Good Conversations forum for 2018 explored the link between forced marriage, slavery and family violence.

Held at Melbourne Town Hall on 7 June, the forum brought together federal and state ​ministers, social services practitioners, policy influencers, Good Shepherd Sisters and Board members, staff and people from the wider community to discuss these issues and identify ways to assist people who are affected by early and forced marriage.

Keynote speaker 

Keynote speaker Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs delivered a thought-provoking presentation on the inequality of women, in which the practice of forced marriage finds its roots. The expert panel shared great insights into the lived experience of women, girls and their families.

Good Shepherd commitment

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand CEO, Stella Avramopoulos, announced Good Shepherd’s commitment to collaborating with others to develop innovative and holistic service responses for families in Australia.

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Follow developments at the forced marriage in Australia page on Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand website.