You would be forgiven for thinking that slavery was no longer among the main concerns facing the Australian workforce.
However, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, approx. 4300 Australians are currently victims of modern slavery.
Modern slavery, in this context, refers to ‘situations where one person has taken away another person’s freedom- their freedom to control their body, their freedom to refuse certain work or to stop working- so that they can be exploited’. (The Walk Free Foundation)
As such, modern slavery includes forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, and even organ trafficking.
To combat the blight on our country’s workforce, the Australian Government is set to introduce the Modern Slavery Act 2018, modelled off of similar laws introduced in the UK in 2015.
Reportedly, the Act will move beyond the UK’s lead and will set the foundation for the most stringent anti-slavery regulatory system in the world.
Businesses with turnover exceeding $50 million will be required to report to a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner not only on their compliance with the regulations, but to also provide information on their efforts to address the issue of slavery.
Nevertheless, the proposed legislation has still been criticised for failing to provide clear and serious penalties which, according to a spokesperson for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, ‘is a reason why the UK’s own Modern Slavery Act has not been effective’. (Reuters)