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Landmark report on modern slavery delivered

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THE Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee of the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has tabled the final report for the Committee’s inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

The Committee’s report, Hidden in Plain Sight, makes 49 recommendations to improve Australia’s efforts to combat modern slavery here and around the world. Latest estimates suggest that over 40 million people around the world, including 4300 in Australia, are victims of some form of modern slavery, which includes human trafficking, slavery, debt bondage, forced labour and other slavery-like practices.

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce a Modern Slavery Act in Australia similar to but improving on the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Committee recommends that the proposed Act should establish an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and supply chain reporting requirements for entities operating in Australia. The Committee further recommends improvements to:

  • support for victims (including a national compensation scheme);
  • criminal justice responses (including training for frontline officials); and
  • protections for workers vulnerable to exploitation (including changes to Australia’s visa framework and establishing a national labour hire licensing scheme).

The Committee heard particular concerns about ‘orphanage trafficking’ and also recommends a range measures to ensure that Australians do not perpetuate the exploitation of children in overseas orphanages through donations or tourism. This includes establishing a register of approved orphanages and a national awareness campaign on the risks of orphanage trafficking.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub‑Committee, Mr Chris Crewther MP, said that “modern slavery describes some of the greatest crimes our time".

“This report highlights that modern slavery is often ‘hidden in plain sight’ across a range of industries in Australia and in the global supply chains of businesses and organisations operating here. An Australian Modern Slavery Act, as recommended by this report, will make a significant contribution to ensuring that, here in Australia, we are doing all we can to combat these crimes,” Mr Crewther said.  

The report is available from the Committee’s website: www.aph.gov.au/modernslavery.

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