Reports and convictions of trafficking in Australia have occurred. They have occurred in situations of slavery, sexual servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, domestic servitude ( in home workers) and debt bondage. Exact numbers of people trafficked to Australia each year is not known due to difficulty in reporting and because of the illegal nature of the crime. There is also a need for a national compensation scheme for people who have been caught in slavery in Australia. All the compensation schemes are state based and different. Yet slavery is a national crime. To address these issues adequately, Australia will need a Domestic Slavery Commission. The Commissioner would be a focus and a central “go to” point to ensure the implementation of an Act and adequate care for people caught in slavery in Australia.
Laws reflect the values of a culture. Freedom is a human right and not a privilege. Human rights protection has traditionally been a matter for the State. However, due to globalisation, the liberalisation of trade and the immense economic power of corporations, it is now well recognised that there is also a crucial link between the way in which businesses conduct their operations, human rights and diligent corporate social responsibility policies. In addressing human trafficking, slavery and slave like practices in Australia, our laws should take into account that the most immediate obligation is to ensure that the victim is protected from further exploitation and harm and that compensation and remediation is available. These are basic human rights that Australia has committed to. These should underpin a Modern Slavery Act.
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Australia has obligations under a number of international treaties to protect survivors of human tra cking and slavery.5 It is essential that the rights and safety of survivors are at the heart of any legislation or policy to combat human trafficking and slavery.
Human rights protection has traditionally been a matter for the State. However, due to globalisation, the liberalisation of trade and the immense economic power of corporations, it is now well recognised that there is a crucial link between the way in which businesses conduct their operations and human rights. Businesses have a responsibility to protect human rights impacts that are linked directly to their operations. Around the world more and more responsible businesses are investing in corporate social responsibility prolicies that put human rights front and centre of business practice. In the list of the world’s top 100 economic entities, 31 are nation states and 69 are corporations.