MEDIA RELEASE: Modern Slavery Parliamentary Report a great step forward

The Walk Free Foundation today welcomed the Interim Report by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

The Committee’s Report was tabled in Parliament and demonstrates strong support for a comprehensive Modern Slavery Act.

“The Committee has seized the importance of this issue and has shown the way forward for a strong Australian response,” said Walk Free Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Ms Jenn Morris.

The Committee’s recommendations share the commitment to supply chain reporting by large companies that was made by the Government in launching its ‘Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement’ discussion paper, released this week.

Importantly, the Committee goes further, in that it recognises the need for a broader piece of legislation that addresses the inadequacies of Australia’s existing response to slavery.

The Committee also addresses the other issues that are part of its charter from the Attorney General, Senator George Brandis. Its strong recommendation for the creation of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Office reflects the compelling evidence of a vastly improved focus on and prosecution of slavery offences in Australia.

Only one trafficker was prosecuted in Australia last year, despite the increase in reported offences.

“The Walk Free Foundation will work with the Australian Government to ensure its National Action Plan protects victims and prosecutes offenders,” Ms Morris said.

The introduction of an Independent Commissioner’s role in the UK has seen a significant rise in reporting and prosecutions as the Commissioner has raised the profile of the issue, worked to train police and prosecutors and driven strong community and business responses.

Ms Morris said an Australian Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was essential in order to effectively tackle the slavery that exists in Australia. ENDS

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