Church leaders praise passing of modern slavery laws

Large businesses  will have to report annually on risks of slavery in their supply chain (Bigstock)

Australia’s Church leaders have praised federal Parliament for its commitment to tackling the scourge of slavery with the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill last week. Source: CRA and ACBC.

The bill, which passed through both houses on Thursday, has established a reporting requirement that will see more than 3,000 large businesses that have an income in excess of $100 million, as well as other entities, make annual reports on the risks of slavery in their supply chain and the actions they are taking to reduce the risks. Other entities include the government itself and other non-government organisations.

Catholic Religious Australia President Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ said the mandatory reporting requirements were a significant step in the right direction.

“However, there is still much work to be done for the 15,000 victims of modern slavery currently in Australia,” Sr Monica said. “An independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner would be another step in the right direction.”

According to the United Nations, over half the victims of modern slavery worldwide are exploited in the Asia-Pacific region (approximately 20 million people). This is where a significant number of large Australian businesses have their supply chains. The law will help the Australian business community to take effective action to address modern slavery and help mitigate the risk of modern slavery practices occurring in the supply chains of goods and services in the Australian market.

Sr Monica praised anti-slavery group Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) for its “tireless effort in advocating for the elimination of human trafficking in Australia, the Asia Pacific region, and globally”.

On Friday, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference also paid special tribute to the efforts of ACRATH and the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Anti-Slavery Taskforce in advocating for new legislation.

In its submission to the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 earlier this year, the ACBC said Australians “have a moral imperative to eradicate the injustice of modern slavery.

“If we know that a person’s human dignity is being harmed in this way, we should do what we can to free them from that ill-treatment”.

FULL STORY

Modern Slavery Bill becomes law (CRA)

Bishops commend Senate for passing anti slavery legislation (ACBC)

RELATED COVERAGE

At last, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act. Here’s what you’ll need to know (The Conversation)

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