Local forum on Human Trafficking
At a public forum on Human Trafficking in the Haydon Hall on July 29, members of the Canberra Catholic Church community came together to address the issues in Australia, and engage in discussion about the Australian Government’s The Australian Modern Day Slavery Act.
Heather Moore, National Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, outlined how the legislation will mobilise Australia’s consumer power to work towards an end to modern slavery and to set new standards for companies to report on it.
She highlighted how communities of faith reject the systematic deprivation of an individual’s freedom for purposes of exploitation.
As well as demonstrating regional leadership The Modern Day Slavery Act will be important as a realistic pathway to eliminate trafficking in Australia, but is only the beginning. Effective and empowered Government coordination and the appointment of an anti-slavery commissioner, as well as maintenance of a publicly accessible repository to file “Modern Slavery Statements” will be important features.
Workers at risk are generally among the poorest and most vulnerable, physically or linguistically isolated, culturally disoriented, deprived of freedom of movement, and with little knowledge of their rights. The Global Slavery Index, identifies 45.8 million such people subjected to some form of modern slavery in the world today. That same index has found cases in Australia in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality and domestic sectors, estimated to total around 15,000 people trafficked.
While there are still many gaps, it is expected that the legislation will move the system towards better protections for victims and survivors. Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH’s) schedule of actions that can work to stop human trafficking are realistic ways to support this work in the interim (see acrath.org.au).
Mike Cassidy is the Chairman, CSJC (ACG)