AFN Calls for a Modern Slavery Act in Australia
30 May 2017
AFN Submission – Inquiry into an Australian Modern Slavery Act
The AFN thanks the members of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee for the opportunity to make a submission to their Inquiry into a Modern Slavery Act for Australia.
The AFN supports the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act, and recommends three key elements for the Act:
1) Appointment of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner
The appointment of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to lead Australia’s fight against modern slavery, with powers and responsibilities similar to the appointed UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner (currently Kevin Hyland).
Independent oversight is vital to the success of any efforts to tackle the multifaceted crime of modern slavery which requires a response from a vast range of stakeholders across the public, private and community sectors.
2) Modern Slavery Statements
At a minimum, legislation that requires all large organisations doing business in Australia to publish an annual “Modern Slavery Statement” reporting on steps taken to eradicate modern slavery within their organisations and supply chains.
Large businesses have the power to influence change within supply chain networks, to drive up standards and remove the profitability of modern slavery.
3) The creation and maintenance of a free publicly-accessible central repository for all Modern Slavery Statements
A repository is needed to ensure laws are effective in bringing change. The repository was an identified gap in the UK framework that has since been remedied. A public repository, and reports generated from it, can be used to measure the progress of organisations, improve public accountability and review social impact.
The introduction of a Modern Slavery Act for Australia would also demonstrate steady progress towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and … and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.” Australia is one of 177 countries who have adopted the UN agenda.