MEDIA RELEASE: Welcome action on modern slavery legislation inquiry

The Walk Free Foundation is delighted with today’s Australian Government announcement of an inquiry into the adoption of national legislation to combat modern slavery.

By introducing an Australian Modern Slavery Act, the Australian Government has an opportunity to show leadership domestically and in the region to protect the victims of the crime that is modern slavery.

Andrew Forrest, Founder and Chairman of the Walk Free Foundation, said “The Australian Government’s modern slavery legislation inquiry is a welcome affirmation that the Australian Government is committed to helping the 45.8 million people around the world still living in modern slavery today”.

“Engaging with this issue will soon no longer be an option. International laws are requiring mandatory reporting on modern slavery. Australian businesses are impacted by these laws, and this year I will continue to lobby for domestic laws to ensure the reputation of Australian businesses matches our foreign policies and moral expectations.”

“Governments have a central role in terms of leadership and regulatory powers, and the parliamentary inquiry puts welcome emphasis on the importance of cooperation with industry and consumers. For this reason, I support regulation, or at the very least, strong government incentives to act.”

There is a vast array of issues underpinning the complexity of modern slavery. The Government and civil organisations undertake vital work ranging from victim support and rehabilitation, to prosecuting offenders and much more. Building on this framework, the Walk Free Foundation, together with other organisations, businesses and faith leaders, are calling for a “Modern Slavery Act” in Australia that implements three key priorities:

Commissioner – the appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner to provide independent oversight, with powers to monitor laws and hold business and the Government accountable.
Modern Slavery Statements – the requirement for large organisations to annually report on steps taken to eradicate modern slavery within their organisation and supply chains.
Repository – the creation and maintenance of a publicly accessible repository of all modern slavery statements filed each year.

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