Justice Campaigners Celebrate as New Law Brings Real Change to Modern Slavery

By: Clare Bruce

While Aussies were busy late night shopping on Thursday, November 29, justice campaigners around the nation, and politicians in Canberra were busy celebrating the passing of a historic law: the Modern Slavery Bill.

It’s a new law that will protect potentially millions of people around the world—those people who make the cheap goods we rich Australians have the privilege of buying every Thursday night.

The Modern Slavery Bill 2018 ushers in a new era of accountability for Australian businesses when it comes to slavery in their supply chains.

Organisations with a revenue of over $100 million, (or over $50 million for NSW businesses), will have to research and report on whether there are any risks for abuse and slavery within the ranks of workers that produce their products.

It is set to prevent many forms of exploitation including violence, coercion, abuse of power, child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, forced marriage and deceptive recruiting.

It’ll help to protect the more than 40 million people around the world who suffer some form of modern slavery, including an estimated 15,000 people within Australia itself.

Standing in the Way of Abuse

Fuzz Kitto, one of the directors of the anti-slavery coalition Stop the Traffik, said that said the decision isn’t only going to help people who are currently stuck in slavery situations, but will also prevent injustice into the future.

“It’s going to put a fence at the top of the cliff rather than having to do ambulance services at the bottom when it comes to slavery,” he said.

After years of campaigning towards the decision, Fuzz said the passing of the bill was an emotional moment.

“I came out of the senate when it was passed and got to the car and burst into tears,” he said, “because it’s like, ‘at last, all that we said could happen is happening’. I kind of feel like ‘the spirit of Wilberforce’ is on us.

We’ve got power to make a massive difference in choosing what we buy.”

“It will make a difference. It’s not going to be the silver bullet that does everything, but it will raise the bar. What it is going to do is getting companies to check their supply chain. The 3500 businesses realise they’ve got a responsibility.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot to tighten up in the bill … but we will be working for that and in three years there will be a review about how it’s going and what needs to be included

Organisations like Stop the Traffik are still campaigning for an anti-slavery commissioner to be established, and are continuing to educate consumers.

“In Australia we’re a consuming country. We’ve got power and we buy,” he said.

“We want more and more. The two ways you get more is you earn more money to buy more things, or you get more things for less. ‘Down down, prices are down’ – that’s what we’ve gone for.

“We’ve got power to make a massive difference in choosing what we buy.”

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Clare is a digital journalist for the Broadcast Industry.

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