Award recognises work to end human trafficking

Pauline Coll SGS (AM)

Pauline Coll SGS (AM)

Among the 683 Australians recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours list is Good Samaritan Sister, Pauline Coll, of Brisbane.

Pauline was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and as an advocate for the protection of women and children, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pauline said she was “amazed” and “shocked” to receive a letter late last year from the Governor-General’s office informing her she’d been nominated for the award.

“When I read it more carefully, I realised that I would have to decide whether to accept the honour or decline. When I read the citation, I realised that it was mostly for my work in helping to found ACRATH [Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans]. So this decided [it for] me,” she told The Good Oil.

“If I accepted, then it would once again, at the highest level, bring attention to the work of attempting to eliminate trafficking in humans – and the work of so many women religious in those early years.”

Pauline said the honour, although in her name, includes all those who worked with her, “especially those who from the early days did the hard yards and struggled” with her.

“It also includes all those – including the Sisters of the Good Samaritan – who in many ways supported me during those seven years of struggle, joy, pain, success and failure.”

From 2004 until early 2011, Pauline was a driving force behind the establishment of the national organisation, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), of which she was a founding member and the inaugural chair.

Pauline believes collaboration with a range of organisations and individuals was fundamental to ACRATH’s foundation and its ongoing development.

“It’s collaboration that gets you somewhere… that gets the momentum going,” she said.

“I had a dream that such an organisation with such collaborative underpinning was needed so that those of us who helped establish it could then walk away when it was time and know that it wouldn’t ‘fall over’, [that it would] continue in all sorts of new and creative ways.”

Endorsed by Catholic Religious Australia, the peak body for more than 180 religious orders in Australia, ACRATH actively campaigns against human trafficking on a number of fronts: raising awareness, sharing information and building networks nationally and globally; facilitating action to combat and prevent human rights violations related to human trafficking; providing educative resources about human trafficking; and offering direct services such as counselling, rehabilitation and reintegration programs for people who have been trafficked.

These days Pauline lives at the BallyCara Village of Friends in Scarborough where she continues “to be a Good Samaritan woman in any way that might offer itself” to her.

“Although I suppose I am ‘retired’, as Good Sams there are always opportunities that arise to live out of the Parable [of the Good Samaritan], whether it be as the one in the ditch, the ones who walk by, the donkey, the inn-keeper, part of the crowd looking on, or the one who does something about what is being presented,” she explained.

“As I grow older I want to do the inner and spiritual work that I need to do in these later years – to become a more compassionate and contemplative woman.”

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The Good Oil, February 18, 2014. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

12 Responses to “Award recognises work to end human trafficking”

  1. Catherine Norman says:

    Recognistion has been a long time coming as has public awareness of this issue. Thank you for all the work you have done in opening eyes to the problem and agitating to get action. A well deserved award.

  2. Pauline, This is a belated congratulations but I was thrilled to see your name in the Australian Day Awards. I am a friend of your niece Marianne Coll who has always spoken of you with much love, pride and admiration and when fellow Australians read the awards it is wonderful to know that people like yourself are awarded for devoting a lifetime to helping others less fortunate. Best wishes in your ‘retirement’ at Ballycara and I know that you would be a welcomed member of the Redcliffe Community. Patricia Doncaster

  3. shirley Owen says:

    Dear Pauline, I too am belated in my congratulations. Your inspirational leadership of the team of Religious that together with other like minded “angels” rescued, sheltered, counseled in the non judgmental way of “The Good Samaritan” and then set about seeing Governments enforced laws against trafficking, deserves this high award and much, much more. I feel privileged and honoured to have met you and witnessed how you raised awareness of this inhumane trade in our fellow human beings to those of us who were uninformed.

  4. Sarah Fraser O'Brien says:

    A brilliant achievement and excellent recognition for such hard work. Congratulations Pauline.

  5. Louise Dafter says:

    Congratulations Pauline! It is always great to hear about the wonderful work the Good Sams. are constantly doing. It would have been a shock to receive the notification, but from memory, you were always the one who compassionately listened or poured the oil or gave strength and hope to those around you in need. Such great work must never be forgotten. Thanks.

  6. Kristin Dawson says:

    Congratulations Pauline. It is heartening to hear about work such as your’s and ACRATH in advocating for those women and children who suffer at the hands of traffickers. It is a terrible evil in our world that must be rooted out. Every single effort counts and makes a difference in those lives that have been saved now and in the future.

  7. James Cuskelly says:

    An entirely appropriate award that recognises both the scope and breadth of your understanding of the problem and your vision and work in this area. So pleased for you and for everyone who has worked in this area Pauline.

  8. Chris Knight says:

    Dear Pauline, It has been an honour and a privilege to work with you in raising awareness of human trafficking. You continue to be an inspiration to me and you are one of the most compassionate and contemplative women I know. This honour recognises the thousands of lives that you have changed in particular those that had no voice of their own to speak up. Congratulations. Chris Knight Soroptimist International

  9. Pat Power says:

    Congratulations, Pauline. Well deserved
    Pat Power

  10. Congratulations Pauline – the women and children saved from trafficking may never know you, or who helped them, but did we ever know the Samaritan’s name, or the Inn Keeper’s who worked so well together. Rejoice!

  11. michelle reid says:

    Well done Pauline! It is great to see this important work continue and that recently it is receiving more publicity. Much is needed to raise the profile of the issue and to keep it to the forefront for the sake of these young women. All your important foundational work is much appreciated, congratulations on the award, Michelle

  12. Pauline, I’m late with this congratulations! Please be assured your award, received on behalf of those who have journeyed with you is acknowledged in Sydney Town. The occasion, as you say, is the chance to bring to public attention the horrors of the practice of trafficking in humans. Thanks for the compassion and energy you have brought to this need. Marie O’Connor

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