P20_My Blue SkyMy Blue Sky, Australia’s first website dedicated to forced marriage prevention, information and legal advice was launched on Wednesday 25 November 2015 marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 

An initiative of Anti-Slavery Australia, the only specialist legal research and policy centre of its kind in Australia, based in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, the site has been funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.

My Blue Sky aims to educate, raise awareness about and offer advice to people in or at risk of forced marriage. The website includes a free national legal service provided through e-mail and text to assist people at risk of or in a forced marriage.

It provides information about forced marriage, including the law in Australia, the difference between forced and arranged marriage, safety planning, referral organisations and available support services.

The site is accessible to a wide range of people following extensive national community consultation and includes dedicated pages for young children and teenagers; teachers and health professionals; as well as a page for those who are worried about a friend who may be forced to marry.

There is also important contact information for people who may be travelling overseas and are concerned they will be forced to marry once outside of Australia, as well as those who may have already been taken overseas.

Translations are available for parts of the website into six languages with links to the Forced Marriage Community Pack produced by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.

“People facing forced marriage may only have one opportunity to reach out for help,” said project manager and lawyer Joanne Wilton. “We chose the name My Blue Sky to symbolise freedom… a rising above circumstances, a bright future and the fact that help is within reach.”

The Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP stated “Forced marriage is an insidious and hidden crime. It is a slavery-like practice, an abuse of fundamental human rights and there is no place for it in Australia.”

Anti-Slavery Australia Director, Associate Professor Jennifer Burn, said the website will provide a much needed portal for those seeking help.

“Forced marriage in Australia is under-reported and misunderstood,” Associate Professor Burn said.

“Whilst there are no reliable statistics on the number of forced marriages in Australia, over 50 suspected cases of forced marriage have been referred to the Australian Federal Police since forced marriage became a crime in Australia in 2013. Research suggests that the numbers are much greater than these reports.”

Signs that someone is in or at risk of forced marriage

If a person you know is in, or at risk of a forced marriage, they may find it hard to talk about their situation. If you notice some of the following things about a person, then it could mean they are in a forced marriage, or at risk of being made to enter into a forced marriage:

  • a sudden announcement that they are engaged and they don’t seem happy about it
  • they suddenly leave school, university or work
  • they spend a long time away from school, university or work with no reason
  • they have run away from home
  • there is evidence of family violence or abuse
  • their older brothers or sisters were married under the age of 18
  • they are never allowed out or usually have to have somebody else from the family with them
  • they show signs of depression, self-harming, drug or alcohol abuse
  • they seem scared or nervous about an upcoming family holiday overseas

 

For 24/7 information about forced marriage go to www.mybluesky.org.au

For confidential advice or help during operating hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) you can:

E-mail  help@mybluesky.org.au

SMS     0481 070 844

Phone (02) 9514 8115

Connect with us on social media at

Twitter.com/Myblueskyfuture

Facebook.com/MyBlueSkyFuture

Instagram.com/myblueskyfuture

In an emergency, call the police on Triple Zero (000)

If you are concerned about being taken outside of Australia to be married, or you are in or at risk of forced marriage, you can contact the Australian Federal Police by calling 131 AFP (131 237). Contact can be made anonymously.