14 July, 2017

A law to fight slavery 
Say thank you!

So many of the products we use and consume are tainted by slavery and exploitation – but what if there was a law that could help stop this?

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From January to December 2017, the Australian Government conducted an inquiry into introducing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. As part of this process, the Inquiry’s Committee was considering including a provision that would require companies to report on their efforts to tackle slavery in their supply chains.
From our research into the fashion, electronics and chocolate industries, we know that the supply chains of many Australian companies are marred by slavery and exploitation. This means that the most common way Australians encounter slavery is through the companies that we buy from!

The Inquiry has recently concluded, and their findings are promising. All the major recommendations that we were calling for have been included in the Committee’s final report. We are looking forward to hearing how the Government responds to these recommendations, but as we wait for further progress, join us in thanking the Committee for their commitment and hardwork, for their compassion for the victims of slavery, and their wisdom in making their final recommendations.

Say Thank You

Thank the members of the Modern Slavery Act Inquiry Committee for their hard work, compassion and wisdom.

Your Message
Below is a preview of the message that will be sent to the Modern Slavery Act Inquiry Committee on your behalf.

Dear Committee Members

I am deeply concerned about the presence of modern slavery in the world, which is why I’m writing to say thank you for all your work on the Modern Slavery Act Inquiry and the “Hidden in Plain Sight” report.

In a world where there are 25 million people in the world trapped in forced labour, most of whom are enslaved in the private economy, the recommendations that you and your fellow committee members put forward have the potential to make a significant difference.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to a broad range of voices, for your compassion towards those who are enslaved, and your wisdom in creating a robust set of recommendations.

I look forward to working with you to see these recommendations become reality.

Yours sincerely,

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Background

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation estimate that approximately 25 million people are currently trapped in forced labour around the globe.

Of that 25 million, approximately 16 million are exploited in the private economy– working in industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction, domestic work and manufacturing (including garments and electronics). It is in labour intensive industries such as these, in countries and regions where worker protections are inadequate or non-existent and where legal enforcement is weak, that forced labour and exploitation are most likely to occur. The pursuit of lower labour costs has seen global supply chains increasingly concentrated in these high-risk areas.

For this reason, there can be no doubt that there are goods entering Australia that are produced under exploitative conditions.

In February 2017, the Australian Government announced that it would be undertaking an inquiry into establishing legislation to combat modern slavery, comparable to the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015. In April 2017, and again in October 2017, Baptist World Aid put forward submissions to this inquiry, and was also invited to provide direct input to decision makers from both major parties.

Over the last year, we’ve pushed for a requirement to ensure that businesses report on their due diligence efforts to end modern slavery in their supply chains; we’ve asked for a central repository of those reporting statements, so that the public can track progress and hold businesses accountable; we’ve recommended that there be penalties for non-compliance and a threshold to capture the majority of businesses in industries where risks of slavery and exploitation are high.

We welcome both the Coalition and Labor Party’s commitment to introducing legislation that requires companies to report on their efforts to address slavery. While there are still some details to be fleshed out in the Labor Party’s policy, their draft framework is strong. The Coalition’s draft policy however, falls short in several critical areas.

It is our hope that both major parties will find agreement on the Committee’s recommendations, which we believe would make a robust Modern Slavery Act.

While we wait for further developments, join us in thanking the Inquiry Committee.