Australia must help end slavery: Griffiths

Rachel Griffiths and Sophea Touch (9news.com.au screenshot)

Australians must help end modern slavery in its own backyard, actress Rachel Griffiths has told a parliamentary inquiry, 9news.com.au reports.

The public hearing for the inquiry into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia was held yesterday.

The inquiry follows from the UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act, and the findings of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's report into modern human trafficking.

Ms Griffiths told the hearing that Australians needed to stamp out "slavery-like practices" undertaken by businesses and organisations in Australia.

"It's astounding that so many still believe that slavery is a horror of the past," she said.

"It's the second biggest illicit trade, behind drugs, on our planet (and) it's happening mostly in our region."

While people have good intentions, there is not enough examination of where the money spent by tourists is going, or whether families are receiving incentives for handing their children over to orphanages, she said.

"We need to counter the selfie moment," Ms Griffiths told the inquiry in Melbourne yesterday.

"If running into the orphanage and being greeted by 100 children making you feel good is the selfie moment, it's going to take time for our educators to explain (that) while it may feel good, it may not actually be good."

Ms Griffiths was speaking as a patron of children's charity Hagar, which works to help survivors of trafficking recover from trauma and reintegrate into society.

Hagar client Sophea Touch also spoke at the hearing, recounting how she was handed over by her father when she was just three or four years old to a woman who enslaved her in domestic servitude.

She endured repeated beatings and starvation and ran away to several other families where her mistreatment continued, resulting in her attempting suicide. Ms Touch eventually found love, support and hope with a Hagar foster family, the inquiry was told.

The inquiry's next public hearing will be on August 11 at Parliament House in Canberra.

FULL STORY

Australia must stamp out slavery in its own backyard, actress Rachel Griffiths says (9news.com.au)

RELATED COVERAGE

Think beyond selfies to tackle child slavery: Rachel Griffiths (SBS World News)

'Slave labour' and sexual exploitation: calls for investigation into backpacker abuse (The Guardian)

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