Catholic Health Australia is calling on the Albanese Government to establish an independent anti-slavery commissioner as part of reforms to improve the Modern Slavery Act 2018.
CHA, which represents 19 entities that report under the Act, believes an independent anti-slavery commissioner would provide leadership and help drive improvements to reporting standards.
CHA members submit annual modern slavery statements to the federal Government’s online register and participate in the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network’s (ACAN) modern slavery risk management program.
Through the ACAN program, CHA members also publish baseline data and key metrics in their statements to demonstrate continuous improvement and as a measure of effectiveness.
CHA strategy and mission director Brigid Meney said CHA strongly supports the Modern Slavery Act, describing it as a “force for good”, but believes the Act can be made even better.
“The efforts of CHA members would be greatly strengthened with major suppliers in the healthcare sector with the appointment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner,” Ms Meney said.
ACAN executive officer Alison Rahill said Catholic organisations in the network had asked the Government to strengthen the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act.
“The US Government prohibits Chinese goods from areas where forced labour is widespread from entering its borders. For example, during a six-month period in 2022, the US Government is reported to have stopped more than 1000 shipments of solar energy components from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about slave labour,” Ms Rahill said.
“By contrast, the Australian Government does not have any export controls in place prohibiting the import of goods suspected to be made by forced labour.”