The Church in Australia is at the forefront of efforts to eradicate modern slavery by 2030, writes Sydney Archdiocese's Anti-Slavery Taskforce chair John McCarthy. Source: America Magazine.
The existence of slavery in its modern forms continues to be a serious problem for the supply chains of Catholic entities in Australia. Today the risk that a product or service is tainted with slave labour somewhere in the supply chain occurs in almost all industries. All countries are affected.
But under the Modern Slavery Act, large Australian entities are required each year to publish a Modern Slavery Statement in a publicly available register, reporting “on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks.”
Australia’s population is small compared with that of the United States, but the procurement of goods and services by the church in Australia is one of the largest outside the public sector.
The Eradicating Modern Slavery from Catholic Supply Chains Conference, held in Sydney in July, sought to prepare and equip large Catholic entities to eradicate modern slavery and to meet the requirements of new national legislation.
This conference provided an opportunity to review the results of a modern slavery risk analysis conducted on suppliers representing more than $2 billion of spending by 23 Catholic entities.
The results provided a sober reminder of how much work lies ahead, not only for Catholic entities, but for the wider Australian community: 75 per cent of those surveyed reported significant spending with a high exposure to the potential risk of modern slavery.
The conference report sets out key recommendations to enable Catholic entities to share resources, including supply chain risk-assessment tools, information about contract clauses, supplier education and employee awareness materials. It also recommends the establishment of a modern slavery implementation group to help relevant Catholic entities meet the organisational and reporting tasks related to supply chains.
These recommended plans of action are placing the Church in Australia at the forefront of efforts to eradicate modern slavery nationally and globally by 2030. That makes Catholic anti-slavery work in Australia significant for Rome and for bishops’ conferences worldwide in the years to come.
John McCarthy is the chair of the Anti-Slavery Taskforce of the Archdiocese of Sydney.
How the Church in Australia is working to eradicate modern slavery (America Magazine)