Act against slavery, Prime Minister urged

Faith leaders call for Modern Slavery Act: "Every person deserves to live a life of freedom", says Archbishop Freier

December 2 2016The Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has joined other religious leaders in urging Prime Minister Malcolm  Turnbull to act against modern slavery.

The leaders want the Federal Government to introduce a Modern Slavery Act for Australia, and call on business leaders to support such an act.

The religious leaders – who include the Australia’s most senior Catholic, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, plus Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian leaders – have written a joint letter to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Australian Freedom Network.

“Australia has robust legislation criminalizing the spectrum of slavery and slavery-like practices and we believe a Modern Slavery Act would be a vital next step. Australia has an opportunity to lead and an opportunity to learn from what has worked and not worked in other countries to identify, mitigate and eradicate modern slavery,” the letter says.

The Australian Freedom Network was launched a year ago today with the support of the Federal Government to focus on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour and forced marriage.

The letter commends Federal Government commitments announced in May to curb exploitation that is rife in some industries.

“As faith leaders united against modern slavery, we express our concerns about the welfare and human rights of thousands of migrant workers who are either at risk of or are experiencing forced labour in Australia.”

Archbishop Freier  said: “Every person deserves to live a life of freedom. As people of faith we have pledged to work together to overcome this terrible evil still being suffered by so many of our fellow human beings. The eradication of modern slavery needs to be a national priority for all of us - Government, business and civil society. It’s only by working together that we can succeed in abolishing slavery.”

Read the letter here, and see statements from the leaders who signed it here.