Working together to end modern day slavery
President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has welcomed the combined advocacy efforts of ecumenical, interfaith and community partners in support of a Modern Slavery Act for Australia.
Last week, a coalition of organizations including the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) Unit lodged a submission with a Parliament Inquiry into a Modern Slavery Act.
This inquiry was launched in February, to discern whether Australia should adopt a similar national legislation as the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
“As Christians we believe that human beings are made in the image of God. To enslave another human is an outrageous attack on human dignity.
“I am delighted that we as a church are making the most of our partnerships across civil society to advocate for the common good,”said Mr McMillan.
According to the Global Slavery Index there are around 45.8 million people worldwide who are living as modern day slaves. In Australia there is an estimated 4300 people enslaved. 21st century slavery often means you are unable to see the shackles. Recent examples of migrant worker exploitation including debt bondage and deprivation of liberty that fall within the definition of modern slavery suggest the actual figure could well be higher.
The UCA JIM Unit’s partners in the joint submission included the Salvation Army’s Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans and the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils in Australia.
Dr Zirnsak says it’s important that Australia not be left behind as global efforts to eradicate slavery gather pace.
“Large corporations in the UK are now required to declare publicly the steps they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery-free,”
“The same expectation on Australian companies would raise consumer awareness, model good corporate behaviour and hopefully lead to reduction in exploitation, both here in Australia and in our region,”said Dr Zirnsak.
Mr. McMillan is also one of a number of Australian faith leaders who has supported a submission by the Australian Freedom Network. This network of Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu faith leaders look to collaborate efforts to end modern day slavery.
“Ultimately the best measures to end modern slavery and human trafficking will empower the people working to be able to defend their own rights,” said Dr Zirnsak.
The submissions will be made available on the Inquiry website once they’ve been approved for publication by members of Parliament’s Human Rights and Aid Sub-Committee.
For local individuals and organisations submissions have closed however overseas governments, individuals and organisations are still open until Friday, 19 May 2017 by clicking here.
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