29 Oct 2012

Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice recognised at 2012 Freedom Awards for outstanding contribution to Human Rights

Sydney, 29 October 2012: Clayton Utz has been recognised at the 2012 Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Awards for its groundbreaking work in obtaining compensation for people who have been trafficked into Australia.

The citation for Clayton Utz at the Freedom Awards ceremony was read by Associate Professor Jennifer Burn, Director of Anti-Slavery Australia:

"Clayton Utz and Anti-Slavery Australia have worked together since 2009 to open up a new path to statutory victims compensation for women who have been trafficked into Australia and held in sexual servitude. The partnership between Clayton Utz and Anti-Slavery Australia has resulted in over $500,000 in compensation being awarded to trafficked women this year. Pro Bono Partner David Hillard and the Clayton Utz team have pioneered a new approach to pursuing victims' rights, and made a welcome and significant difference to the lives of trafficked people," said Professor Burn. 

Clayton Utz has acted for trafficked women in NSW, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland, who have been forced to work in the most horrendous conditions of sexual servitude. So far, each determined application has received the statutory maximum payment for victims compensation.

David Hillard, Pro Bono Partner at Clayton Utz, commented that: "It is unthinkable that sex slavery exists in 21st century Australia, and yet each of our clients was held prisoner in a brothel until they repaid a trafficking debt of up to $60,000. They worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day, and were forced to have sex with up to 1,200 clients over six months. The money will not fix what our clients have suffered, however it does recognise that what happened to them was wrong, and is substantial enough to make real differences to their lives today."

Clayton Utz and Anti-Slavery Australia received commendation from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney at the UTS Human Rights Awards 2012.

Earlier this month, Clayton Utz today achieved the remarkable milestone of 400,000 hours of pro bono legal assistance and representation provided free to disadvantaged people who could not obtain Legal Aid and to the non-profit organisations which support disadvantaged people. 400,000 hours is the most pro bono work ever conducted by an Australian law firm.

Anti-Slavery Australia is the only specialist legal research and policy centre in Australia focused on the abolition of slavery, trafficking and extreme labour exploitation. It provides comprehensive legal advice, representation and assistance to people who have experienced trafficking or slavery in Australia, and advocates for changes to laws and policies that will improve the protection of the rights of people who have been trafficked or enslaved.

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