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Moe Turaga and Senator Nita Green (ACAN)

Advocates for the Australian Catholic Anti-slavery Network have won key amendments to Commonwealth legislation to give victim-survivors a voice in the national response to modern slavery.

A Senate Committee report into the bill to establish an Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner has taken up three key ACAN recommendations, including specific requirements for the new commissioner to engage with and support survivors.

The Committee report thanked ACAN survivor consultant Moe Turaga, the only victim-survivor to give evidence at the inquiry public hearing in Brisbane on February 19, and quoted Mr Turaga’s evidence extensively.

In his comments, Queensland Liberal Senator Paul Scarr paid tribute to Mr Turaga.

“It is inspiring that he is now an advocate for vulnerable people who are the victims of modern slavery,” Senator Scarr said, describing Mr Turaga’s evidence as “very moving” and “particularly compelling.”

Mr Turaga appeared at the public inquiry for ACAN alongside Domus8.7 Advisory Committee member Luke Geary, who put the ACAN case for the commissioner to have greater investigative powers to inquire into individual cases of modern slavery.

That specific ACAN recommendation is reflected in the committee’s concession that the Anti-Slavery Commissioner should have the remit to make arrangements, such as memoranda of understanding, with law enforcement agencies to refer cases for investigation.

ACAN was the only faith-based organisation invited to give evidence at the public hearing, which also heard from business groups, academics, government agencies, the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner, union representatives and non-government organisations.

Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will consider the Senate Committee amendments before further consideration by the Parliament.

ACAN program manager Alison Rahill said the Senate Committee report recommendations provide encouragement and build on ACAN’s growing record of working collaboratively with Catholic organisations to support and protect the most vulnerable.

“We are indebted to Mr Turaga and Mr Geary for sharing their expertise and advocacy on behalf of ACAN,” Ms Rahill said.

“All members of ACAN look forward to working with an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who we expect to be appointed later this year.”


 ACAN advocacy wins bipartisan support for slavery survivors (ACAN)