The Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network is calling for an independent Australian anti-slavery commissioner with the power and resources to do their job effectively.
Legislation to create the role is before federal Parliament.
While welcoming the new role, ACAN program manager Alison Rahill said the proposed job description is missing important practical powers.
“The ability for a commissioner to ensure individuals, groups and cohorts of people impacted by modern slavery crimes are identified, and have access to best practice remediation response needs to be part of the commissioner’s role,” Ms Rahill said. “The role that’s defined in the legislation does not do that.
“Another major omission is the oversight of the public sector’s modern slavery response.
“A commissioner needs the authority to set standards and require greater due diligence in public procurement processes. The commissioner also needs the ability to monitor and report on the effectiveness of public sector controls against modern slavery.”
Ms Rahill said ACAN staff’s recommendations were based on their extensive experience educating Catholic organisations about compliance activities.
“Since the commencement of the Modern Slavery Act five years ago, ACAN has led Australia’s most comprehensive response to the Act across a broad network.”
“We work with more than 95 Catholic entities and by the end of this next reporting period we will have submitted more than 150 Modern Slavery Statements in line with statutory reporting requirements to assess, address and mitigate the risk of modern slavery in operations and supply chains.
The ACAN submission to a Senate inquiry The Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill 2023, recommends a number of amendments including the ability for the commissioner to develop specific codes of practice for high-risk goods; the authority and resources to issue meaningful reports across all reporting entities; and the power to specify that certain goods or commercial activities be reported in Modern Slavery Statements as global issues arise.