41k people working in slave-like conditions in Aus

According to estimates, about 50 million women, men, and children work in conditions akin to slave worldwide, including more than 29 million in our own region and about 41,000 in Australia alone.

“I would want to start by giving thanks to the Wurundjeri People, who are the original inhabitants of the area where we are gathering. Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, remarked, “I pay respects to Elders, past, present, and emerging.”

“I also want to thank those present who have firsthand knowledge of modern slavery and who, in the face of the worst that humankind has to offer, nonetheless hold out faith that things can be different. We find inspiration in you today.

I have served as Australia’s foreign minister since the Albanese Labor government took office a little more than a year ago.

Respect for human rights is ingrained in our government’s DNA as a labour one.

A key contributor to the Declaration’s formulation was the Chifley Labor Government, one of the first to sign it.

The rights of workers, in particular, are ingrained in our DNA. Labour was founded on the pursuit of these rights, which are explicitly enumerated in Article 23 of the Declaration but which yet bear reiteration:

Everyone has the right to work, as well as to a job of their choosing, to fair and benevolent working conditions, as well as to protection against unemployment.

Everyone who works also has a right to fair compensation that guarantees them and their families a life worthy of human dignity and is supported, when needed, by other forms of social security.

To protect his interests, everyone has the right to create and join a union.

We continue this legacy as a progressive government. We have no illusions about the state of the world today, yet we nevertheless strive to improve it.

We take actions that can change things. We look for collaborators who can provide us traction. We are aware that lasting change is difficult and occasionally takes longer than we would like. We also understand that in order to bring about this change, we must persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable issues.

One of those issues is modern slavery. It is pervasive and sneaky. Due to power and opportunity gaps in our global economy, it is ingrained in both our supply chains and our economy.

We made election promises that included taking significant action both domestically and internationally to confront modern slavery because it is antithetical to everything we, as a progressive Labor government, stand for.

This is not just a labour value, though. Australia holds this value. Australians don’t want to buy products made in supply chains that criminally take advantage of the most helpless people on the planet.

This is why we applauded the previous administration’s choice to ratify the ILO’s 2014 Forced Labor Protocol in March 2022.

Since this evil is so pervasive and integral to the world economy, it cannot be eliminated until affluent, developed nations take the initiative and stop consuming products created using forced labour.

We are making strides, but we are just getting started. To truly confront contemporary slavery, we must gather momentum across industries and nations.

Therefore, today I’d want to discuss my appraisal of the world as it is and the actions we are taking to change it.

And to ask you to join us in our efforts because it will take a coordinated effort from industry, government, and the community to eradicate modern slavery from the intricate web of global supply chains.

Too many of the unalienable rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably its Article 4 banning slavery, have not yet been realized 75 years after it was first announced.

The Sustainable Development Goals, which set forth our shared global resolve to eradicate forced labour and put an end to modern-day slavery and human trafficking, are also not being met by the globe.

Political unrest, armed conflict, pandemics, and famine are just a few of the conditions that make contemporary slavery more prevalent and are all made worse by climate change.

Existing injustices are made worse by these circumstances, which also subject people—including children—to inhumane treatment.

Another aspect is the rise of authoritarianism. We are aware that some nations mistreat their citizens by using forced labour.

These are significant and pervasive issues, and it is evident that no nation can resolve them independently.

On the other hand, without effective domestic measures to prevent modern slavery, we can’t possibly hope to organize a successful international response.

Mark Dreyfus, the attorney general, is in charge of our domestic work in this area and will be speaking with you tomorrow.

But I really want to emphasize how important his work is to everything we want to do.

We must act accordingly. What we do is more important than what we say. If we wish to assist in spurring effective global action, we must have that moral standing.

The Modern Slavery Act’s strengthening has thus been the focal point of our promises to combating modern slavery.

The Modern Slavery Act has unquestionably had an effect. Modern slavery is now a serious issue in boardrooms all around Australia.

As our companies carefully examine their supply chains and pay attention to their customers, it has also attracted the interest of businesses outside.

However, it must and can do more.

In order to prevent the promotion, approval, or financial support of forced labour in supply chains that originate in, pass through, or end in Australia, we need a domestic framework.

We must examine the situation objectively and avoid ignoring “re-education” or “technical training” programs that serve as a front for contemporary slavery.

I’m confident that all of you, whether you represent industry or civil society, would concur that there needs to be consequences for breaking the law in order to have this assurance.

We recently applauded Professor John McMillan AO’s study of the Modern Slavery Act, which was presented to Parliament last month.

It is crucial that we take lessons from the Modern Slavery Act’s early years of use, pay attention to what businesses and civil society have to say, and think about how the Act may be reinforced.

The Government is currently carefully considering its response to the thirty recommendations in Professor McMillan’s review as we engage across agencies and with stakeholders, as you might anticipate, given the complexity of these issues.

In addition to our work updating the Act, we also made a major election commitment when we announced the appointment of an anti-slavery commissioner in this year’s budget.

But if we can’t also encourage momentum for international action, our local efforts will be insufficient.

Our strategy for combating modern slavery is based on the same values that guide our strategy for advancing human rights in general.

We are driven by principles and take action with intention in a world where human rights violations are distressingly common, and some have a vested economic or political interest in taking advantage of the most defenceless. We exert every effort and use every available means.

We start by using our voice. The Albanese government increased the role of the Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking in February to have a specific focus on modern slavery because highlighting the issue also requires addressing it.

Lynn Bell, who is present today, has been named as our new ambassador to combat modern slavery, people smuggling, and human trafficking.

Likewise, thank the departing ambassador Lucienne Manton for her longtime efforts on these matters.

By using our voices, we can advocate against modern slavery at the UN General Assembly, the International Labor Organization, and the Human Rights Council.

It entails opposing inconsistent support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including arguments that some Goals should be given lower priority.

To do this, one must elevate and support the crucial voice of civil society.

One cannot stress the importance of their effort.

Our assessment of the scope of the issue is supported by their data, which shows that since 2016, there have been an additional 10 million people forced into modern slavery.

Through their work, some of humanity’s deepest secrets have come to light, requiring action.

Partnership is how we pursue global action in the second method. We look for collaborators with whom we can establish shared values and objectives.

Our government is dedicated to promoting a robust and inclusive regional strategy that is supported by interaction and consultation.

I’d want to personally greet the government officials from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam today.

It is a distinctive coalition for advancing and bolstering regional answers to these pressing concerns, with 45 member nations and 4 international organizations.

The Adelaide Strategy for Cooperation, which outlines eight areas to foster cooperation throughout the region and includes increased law enforcement cooperation, stakeholder engagement, information sharing, public information campaigns, and an increased focus on victim protection, was one of the outcomes of our most recent conference this year.

The Bali Process includes a Government and Business Forum that aims to promote advancements in ethical hiring, supply chain transparency, and worker redress.

In particular, I want to thank Forum Business Co-Chairs Andrew Forrest and Garibaldi Thohir for highlighting the fact that ethical companies don’t want to support contemporary slavery.

The ASEAN-Australia Counter-Trafficking Program and TRIANGLE in ASEAN are two significant programs that support Australia’s regional participation against modern slavery.

These initiatives provide legal and social help to trafficking victims as well as training for thousands of government employees involved in counter-trafficking in persons.

Thirdly, we support human rights around the world by providing assistance where it is needed. The Australian government has upped its financial support for the fight against modern slavery. Included in this is official development assistance worth up to $24 million from the previous fiscal year.

With this funding, we can strengthen the safeguards against forced labour in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, and Bangladesh; safeguard migrant workers in Thailand and South Asia; increase public awareness of and fight against child labour and marriage in Afghanistan and several other African states; and combat human trafficking in Nepal. In order to provide human trafficking research and capacity-building throughout the Pacific, we are also contributing $3 million over three years.

I announced Australia’s support for Thailand’s new Center of Excellence for Countering Trafficking in Persons during my bilateral visit there last year.

It will be the region’s first centre with a sole focus on preventing human trafficking.

And today, I’m able to share with you the news that the government of Alba will donate $1 million to the UN to support the trust funds for victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, and contemporary forms of slavery.

This will assist in giving those caught up in these criminal networks vital support. It will assist in funding survivors’ rehabilitation, assisting them in getting well, regaining their footing, and receiving the support they need to begin a new life.

Today, I had the honour of meeting Rani Hong just before I spoke.

She doesn’t need to be introduced to this audience. a former modern-day slave who has used her De-Risking software and strong public platform to make a real difference.

She should be recognized right now, along with all the other survivors present. We appreciate your bravery in speaking out against these cruel deeds in all their manifestations and for sharing your experiences and points of view. We are here because of you.

I hope that everyone in attendance makes the most of this conference, whether they are from the government, business, civil society, multilateral organizations, or academia.

…a chance to form new alliances, strengthen existing ones, and collaborate to put an end to the heinous acts that make up modern slavery.

To ensure that everyone can stroll unimpeded, we must take action. In Russia and Afghanistan, Tibet and Xinjiang, North Korea and Eritrea. the Indo-Pacific region.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the most creatively written papers in history. The thought that our ancestors could aim for such higher ground in the wake of the most devastating conflict in human history astounds us when we read it today. But we suddenly realize how far we still have to go in order to live up to the high bar they set.

The fundamental tenet of this document is that every human being is born free and entitled to basic human rights. Today, we fall far short of this ideal.

And yet, as members of the human family, that is not just the minimum we should demand of ourselves; it is also the norm to which we have agreed.

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