This Inquiry comes at a significant time in Australian history. Australia is a society and not just an economy. There has been a strong value throughout our history as a nation upon “giving people a fair go.” Many young Australians are showing disillusionment with the present democratic process. They are looking to leaders in the Parliament to establish laws and the strengthening of a culture which upholds justice. Human trafficking and slavery in our world brings into sharp focus the question of what it means to value human life and human rights and freedom.
We are seeking a Robust Act which learns from other countries and demonstrates Australia’s leadership.
An Australian Modern Slavery Act should incorporate mandatory due diligence reporting provisions for businesses who reach an appropriate financial threshold, or source in high risk areas of the world and/or in high risk businesses on measures they are taking to address human trafficking, slavery and slavery like practices in their supply chains. There should be voluntary provisions for entities that fall outside of these parameters.
The Australian Government should lead the way in denouncing support for companies that fail to take sufficient measures to minimise the risk of slavery and/ or human trafficking in their supply chains. Public resources should only be used to procure goods and services from companies that demonstrate sufficient measures to minimise the risk slavery in their supply chains.
Australia requires a holistic human rights based approach to slavery and human trafficking to bring domestic laws in line with Australia’s international human rights obligations. Any Modern Slavery Act should take into account that the first and most immediate obligation is to ensure that the victim is protected from further exploitation and harm. What this means in practice will depend on the circumstances of each case. Victims should be afforded support which is not conditional on their cooperation with criminal justice agencies in the prosecution of their exploiters.
An Anti-Slavery Commissioner should be appointed to oversee Australia’s implementation of any Modern Slavery Act.