Faiths United to End Slavery
27 November 2015
Canberra, December 2, 2015.
To mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the Australian Freedom Network was launched today at Parliament House in Canberra. The Australian Freedom Network brings together faith communities making a firm commitment to practical actions to tackle modern slavery in Australia.
Having been inspired by global faith leaders, Australian faith leaders signed the same Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery signed last year in Vatican City at the launch of the Global Freedom Network.
Mrs. Louise Markus MP sponsored the gathering. The Hon Julie Bishop Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon Tanya Plibersek Acting Leader of the Opposition and Chairman of the Global Freedom Network, Andrew Forrest, spoke at the event, which was led by Commissioner James Condon of The Salvation Army Eastern Territory. Former CNN breakfast presenter and host of SBS Dateline, Anjali Rao, was Mistress of Ceremony.
The Global Slavery Index estimates 35.8 million people are enslaved globally with 3,000 people estimated to be enslaved in Australia. In 2015 shocking abuses of people in Australian agriculture, food production and retail franchises have been exposed on an unprecedented scale.
Commissioner Condon says, “The cases that we know about represent only the tip of an iceberg. We must do more to close the gap between the victims we know about and the thousands still enslaved in Australia. Faith communities can play a critical role in this and be part of a global movement that prevents slavery in the first place. All of the world’s major faiths share universal values of dignity, freedom and social justice.”
Salvation Army Freedom Advocate, Sandra, came to Australia as a domestic worker in Western Sydney but soon found herself trapped in slavery. She had been promised a salary and permanent residency but after three years without pay and increasingly abusive conditions Sandra escaped. “I have shared my story to motivate people to take action against slavery in Australia. I have shared my story to encourage people who are in slavery to seek help. As a person of faith, I know that faith in action can be a powerful force for good in our world.” Sandra said.
Chairman of the Global Freedom Network Andrew Forrest said at the event, “On this day last year, for the first time in history, the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican churches, his Holiness Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, as well as leaders from the Orthodox, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths jointly committed to one common endeavour against slavery.
“Today, we are repeating that in Australia. I applaud the commitment today of Australia’s faith leaders to embed action against slavery in the very fabric of their advocacy."
The Global Freedom Network is founded on the premise that religion can be a powerful motivating force to inspire individual and community action both spiritually and practically.
By signing the Joint Declaration, Australian faith leaders have made a commitment to measureable actions towards ending slavery in Australia for at least the next five years. Australians can join them in their efforts at www.afn.org.au
For more information or media comment, please contact:
Mitch Ryan, The Salvation Army Media Office -- (02) 9266 9820
For Andrew Forrest, please contact Ranya Alkadamani – 0434 664 589