A Human Rights Approach – Briefing sheet

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.

Human Rights Approach REVISED Human Rights Approach

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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.

Supply Chain Due Diligence – Briefing Notes

So much manufacturing has gone offshore. Australians mostly impacted by slavery through the products we buy. Imported manufactured goods may contain slavery and labour exploitation. There are workers who are trafficked into work places in many of these countries. An Australian Modern Slavery Act should incorporate mandatory due diligence reporting for businesses who reach an appropriate financial threshold, or source from high risk areas of the world. Voluntary reporting should also be available for businesses falling outside these parameters.  The Australian Government should lead the way in ensuring that public money is only used to procure goods and services from companies that demonstrate sufficient measures to minimise the risk of slavery in their supply chains.

Supply ChainsSupply Chain

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Australia is inevitably implicated in slavery through the consumption of imported goods where forced labour and child labour are used in their production. Currently there is little way of knowing with certainty the extent of slavery which touches Australian consumer goods. Whilst statistics can provide an indication as to the extent of slavery in developing nations, they are unable to demonstrate the extent to which developed nations are touched by slavery as a result of importing goods from o shore manufacturing and labour, including forced labour.

The only way in which Australian consumers can develop an awareness of the potential connection between the products they consume and human trafficking, forced labour and slavery is if corporations are required to be transparent with regard to the way in which their products are produced and made available for sale within Australia.

A National Compensation Scheme – Briefing Notes

Compensation

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While human trafficking is a federal crime there is no federal compensation scheme for victims of human tra cking.

People who have been tra cked have already experienced incredible trauma in experiencing the crime that was committed against them and in having to retell their story as they seek the support they need to recover. Compensation is their right not a privilege.

The current legislative framework for combating tra cking in Australia does not a ord victims of tra cking adequate human rights protection. Australia requires a holistic human rights based approach to bring domestic laws in line with Australia’s international human rights obligations. A Federal Compensation scheme is one aspect of this.