Page 755 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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passionate advocates who have assisted me. Walk Free’s 2021 report gives global estimates of modern slavery and forced marriage. They say this affects almost one in every 150 people in the world and that the problem is getting worse. Adjunct Research Fellow Toni Hassan wrote an excellent piece in yesterday’s Canberra Times about the state of legislation around the country and why we needed more action at state and territory level. She referenced the eye-opening ABC Foreign Correspondent report on crime syndicates in Cambodia that detain cyber scammers in complexes surrounded by barbed wire, forcing the inmates to work 15-hour days and extorting money from people all around the world.

In developing this bill, I have met with stakeholders from a wide range of organisations. This includes academics from UNSW and the ANU, and representatives from organisations, including: Anti-Slavery Australia, Be Slavery Free, Walk Free, Ethical Clothing Australia, The Freedom Hub, the Human Rights Law Centre and many more. Churches and religious groups are particularly engaged in this issue. Many of them have been doing that long, patient work of year-on-year advocacy and detailed commentary on committee inquiries and bills to bring the issue forward for legislators. I particularly want to mention the Salvation Army and ACRATH—the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans.

The work to eradicate modern slavery brings together those from many different walks of live. The Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, the Right Reverend Dr Mark Short, told me how his diocese has been working with Be Slavery Free, an Australian coalition campaigning against modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour. He has said they will be delighted if this legislation is passed in the ACT, because it will make us the second Australian jurisdiction to have a modern slavery act. It would be:

… a significant step forward in our common commitment to protecting human dignity.

I also want to honour the voices of victim survivors. We do not often hear directly from victim survivors of modern slavery. Those who are current or recent victim survivors may not be able to safely speak up. Those who are further along in their journey have a lot to deal with, and they may not wish to speak up. It takes an incredible toll to be the public face of an issue that has destroyed your life and an issue with deep roots in our society. There is limited support and enormous barriers for those taking on that role.

My office is working with one organisation that does provide support and seeks to bring the voices of victim survivors directly into the conversation. They are called the Freedom Hub. They do this in a safe and sensitive manner whilst providing practical help to victim survivors and assisting them to put good lives together. For anyone wanting to make direct reparations or to include the voices of victim survivors directly, I would encourage you to reach out to the Freedom Hub.

How many people are directly affected directly here? In 2021 Anti-Slavery Australia helped over 400 people who had been trafficked to or from Australia or had faced modern slavery while in Australia, including forced marriage, servitude and forced labour. But we know those numbers are a vast underestimate of the scale of the problem.


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