Brisbane sister honoured for anti-slavery work

Minister Brendan O'Connor presents Pauline Coll SGS with her anti-slavery award

Brisbane-based Good Samaritan Sister, Pauline Coll has received a national award for her distinctive contribution and commitment to the fight against human trafficking, slavery and forced labour.

Pauline is one of seven individuals to receive the inaugural Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Award, presented during a ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra on November 23 by the Honorable Brendan O’Connor, Federal Minister for Home Affairs and Justice.

From late 2004 until early this year, 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.

According to her award citation, Pauline was “indefatigable in her personal endeavours to get human trafficking on the government and community agenda, forging effective and enduring partnerships with a range of diverse groups”.

Pauline said she was both “surprised and delighted”, “proud and humbled” to receive the award.

“I feel humbled because it is a wonderful recognition not just for the work I have done within Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans, but also for all the members of this organisation both past and present,” she explained.

“I also feel that in the face of such a monstrous trade, even a small chink in the solid wall of such evil should be celebrated because it gives strength and hope to continue against the odds.”

Brigidine Sister, Louise Cleary, who worked with Pauline to establish ACRATH and is now the organisation’s national chair, also received an inaugural Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Award.

ACRATH was established in 2005 following meetings of interested religious sisters in late 2004 in response to a declaration from the Union of International Superiors’ General to commit to eradicating the trafficking of women and children.

Since that time, representatives from more than ten women’s religious congregations across Australia have become part of ACRATH. A small number of men’s religious congregations have also become involved in the intervening years.

“ACRATH can truly be said to be a model of being in partnership across many women’s and men’s religious congregations,” said Pauline.

“We knew that there was power in partnership at national and international levels, and with many other NGOs for the good of the women and children for whom we existed.”

Endorsed by Catholic Religious Australia, the peak body for 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 at pastoral and structural levels to combat and prevent human rights violations; providing educative resources about human trafficking; and offering direct services such as counselling, rehabilitation and reintegration programs for people who have been trafficked.

The inaugural Freedom Awards were developed by Anti-Slavery Australia using federal funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act. To read the entire list of individuals and organisations who received an award, visit Anti-Slavery Australia.

The Good Oil, December 13, 2011. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

16 Responses to “Brisbane sister honoured for anti-slavery work”

  1. Margaret Binnie says:

    Dear Pauline. When I saw your name in the Australia Day Honours List I had a little weep. I actually knew someone in the List who obviously deserves to be recognised. It brought back old memories of the day you said you were leaving the Bank to be a Good Sam. And look at you now. Congratulations.

  2. Noel Preston says:

    Dear Pauline

    Congratulations. You have brought light to the world. It is a privilege to have known you and worked with you briefly. Peace. Noel Preston

  3. Noelle Melrose says:

    Congratulations on this well deserved award – you are an inspiration to many and may you continue to inspire others to work against injustice.
    Respect for all life – born and unborn – continues to be our greatest challenge in 2012.

  4. Louise Dafter says:

    Congratulations Pauline, glad to see your work for those less fortunate has been recognised. Hope all is well with you.

  5. Mary Tinney says:

    Pauline, I am delighted that your efforty and those of ACRATH have been recognised with this national award. It is great to see the power of women in solidarity with women.

  6. Marlette Black pbvm says:

    Congratulations Pauline. It is great to have your commitment and effort and the good work of ACRATH recognised in this way.

  7. Shirley Owen says:

    Congratulations Pauline, you are indeed an inspirational human being and an outstanding leader and advocate for the most vulnerable of our global community. I congratulate also Sr. Lousie Cleary who has taken up the challenge as leader of ACRATH on her award. It has been an honour and a privilige to have met you Pauline and thank you for the assistance you gave to our Toowoomba Zonta Club in raising awareness of as you so rightly called it “this monstrous trade”. May God bless and protect you always.

  8. Margaret Sullivan says:


  9. Pauline, not knowing your new address, accept my congratulations on your award for your role in ACRATH. I was glad to read the account of this event in the Good Oil. Blessings as we move closer to the Christmas Event. Love and prayers. Marie O’Connor.

  10. Judith Foster says:

    Congratulations, Pauline. Great to see recognition of your ministry and to read it on CathNews as well. Thank you for all you have done and are doing.

  11. Congratulations Pauline – a well deserved award. Great to see so much awareness and support for ACRATH growing steadily across congregations in Australia and New Zealand.

  12. Sarah Fraser O'Brien says:

    Wonderful recognition Pauline. Congratulations – the ACRATH foundations would have been well established under your guideance. Great photo too!

  13. Bernadette Kreutzer says:

    Wonderful Pauline and great great photo – you look amazing as well as smart!

  14. Anne McLay says:

    Congrats, Pauline, for your great work. With love, Anne

  15. Cathy O'Keeffe pbvm says:

    Congratulations Pauline. Wonderful recognition of the important work you and ACRATH have carried out on behalf of vulnerable women and children. Keep up the good work and may we all be encouraged by your commitment and faithfulness.

  16. Maree Nash says:

    Congratulations Pauline. Fantastic work and tireless effort by you and all involved at ACRATH. Keep being a voice for the voiceless and raising our awareness.

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