Landmark legislation opposes modern slavery

29 June 2018

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand welcomes the Australian Government’s introduction of the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill 2018 into the House of Representatives on 28 June 2018.

“We welcome the introduction of this landmark Bill into Parliament as a firm statement of Australia’s opposition to modern slavery,” said Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand CEO Stella Avramopoulos.

The new Bill will require companies with revenue over $100 million to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations through a mandatory reporting requirement published annually.

“Several countries with the highest numbers of people in modern slavery are known to provide low-cost labour that produces consumer goods for markets in Australia. This legislation will ensure that around 3,000 companies investigate and report on risks of slavery in their supply chains and what they are doing to about it,” said Ms Avramopoulos.

Many of those forced into modern slavery are women and girls, who are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for labour, marriage or sexual exploitation. Good Shepherd’s international network provides services to support women and children who have been exploited in this way across multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ms Avramopoulos noted it was disappointing that the establishment of an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was not part of the Bill as recommended by Good Shepherd and others as part of last year’s Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

“This function would provide independent oversight and ensure accountability in relation to the business reporting requirements as well as support policy leadership, data collection and analysis, and sectoral development,” Ms Avramopoulos said.

“However, the Bill includes the provision of a three-year review of its effectiveness, which will provide an opportunity to assess how well it is working and make improvements to strengthen the legislation as needed.”

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand’s submission to the Modern Slavery Inquiry also noted the need for accompanying support services for victims that recognise their complex vulnerabilities and needs and enable full recovery and long term positive outcomes.

Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade_Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act