An Australian Institute of Criminology researcher is encouraging Pacific communities and families to build on cultural strengths to reduce the vulnerability of children to trafficking.
The Institute's new study shows the Pacific's youth population is vulnerable to exploitation for sex tourism, cheap labour, illegal adoption, customary marriage and pornography.
The Institute's research manager, Laura Beacroft, says some of the communal safeguards and protections that used to be there, aren't being utilised.
"So there's been cases of child trafficking, that have been reported in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Solomon Islands. And in one of those cases, just to give you a bit of an example, involved an informal guardianship arrangement, and this was in PNG, where an 8 year old girl was given to another man by her father, as a partial payment of an outstanding debt. And it was later reported that the 8 year old girl was sexual abused and beaten by the man."
Laura Beacroft says other factors making young people more vulnerable include the need to migrate for work, limited education options, and industries like logging, which occur in poorer rural areas.