Catholic organisations were represented at an event convened by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to mark the 10th anniversary of royal assent of modern slavery offences in Australia’s criminal code.
Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) executive officer Christine Carolan, president Sr Clare Condon sgs and Noelene Simmons sm as well as Australian Catholic Anti-slavery Network program manager Jenny Stanger attended the Parliament House yesterday for the anniversary celebrations.
The significance of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Act included inserting forced marriage, forced labour and organ trafficking offences in the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The legislation also amended existing definitions to capture a range of slavery-like exploitative practices and forms of coercion.
“These new laws made clear there is no place for modern slavery in Australia and empowered law enforcement agencies to disrupt, investigate and prosecute these crimes,” Mr Dreyfus said.
In December, he announced a targeted review of the modern slavery offences in the Criminal Code to ensure Australia’s criminal justice frameworks are effective and up to date. The consultations closed yesterday, following three months of engagement with the public.
ACAN program manager Jenny Stanger was invited to share a reflection as a civil society member of the National Roundtable on People Trafficking and Slavery and advocate for the legal reforms.
“In nearly 20 years, only 31 people have been prosecuted for modern slavery crimes in Australia,” Ms Stanger said. “The Criminal Code has hardly been tested in court and there has never been a prosecution related to forced labour in the supply chains of a business. There will be little effect of the review if the Migration Act, also under review, does not address key barriers to migrants reporting abuse.
“Addressing modern slavery requires a holistic response that recognises the intersectionality of other policy areas with criminal justice.”
The Albanese Government yesterday also announced $2.7 million in further grants funding for organisations to prevent modern slavery crimes and support victims.
ACRATH’s Facebook page (ACRATH)
Marking New Modern Slavery Offences – 10 Years On (Mirage News)