Every human deserves the opportunity to live a life that is safe and offers freedom. The reality is around 40.3 million people currently live in modern slavery globally (Walk Free Global Slavery Index, 2018).
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery is the accepted term that captures a range of crimes including human trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage, child labour, and debt bondage. It refers to any situations of exploitation where a person no longer has the freedom to control their body or freedom to refuse certain work or stop working. They may be unable to leave the situation because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception.
Does Modern Slavery exist in Australia?
It’s easy to think that modern slavery happens ‘somewhere over there’ or ‘doesn’t happen here’. However, the reality is modern slavery affects every country, every region, and every business – in particular, their supply chains. In order to end modern slavery, every business needs to understand how their supply chain is affected.
Supply Chains can be complex, especially in global organisations. The exploitation of people can occur at any stage in the supply chain, impacted by those areas where there is no immediate control by the business in Australia, for example, if the recruiting process takes place in an overseas country.
What can be done?
No nation, government, business, or person alone can eliminate modern slavery. It is through the collective efforts globally of governments, organisations, and industry sectors that modern slavery can begin to be eliminated.
In December 2018, Australia sent a powerful message to the world when the Commonwealth Government introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2018. With the introduction of the legislation, businesses are required to consider the social impact of their operations, to look for incidents of modern slavery in their supply chains, assess and understand the risks, and put reasonable steps in place to respond.
Ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in supply chains, beyond direct suppliers, remains a challenge for many businesses. Regardless of location or industry, looking for modern slavery in supply chains is key in working towards its eradication. Implementing risk-based approaches will help identify violations of human rights, provides the opportunity to remediate and continuously improve on the measures to manage modern slavery risks across supply chains.