Modern Slavery Strategic Plan Released

POLLING, commissioned by the Office of the NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner and conducted by Essential Research, reveals that many people are unaware of the severity of modern slavery in NSW.

The estimated number of people in modern slavery in NSW has grown to more than 16,400 and six in ten Australians say they had no idea the number of people in modern slavery in NSW was so high, and more than 40 per cent people incorrectly believe it is illegal for Australian businesses to trade with overseas companies that engage in modern slavery.

NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner, Dr James Cockayne, the first Anti-slavery Commissioner in the country and just the second globally, said the ground-breaking three-year strategic plan, ‘Working Together for Real Freedom’, released recently, sets the stage for effective anti-slavery action in NSW during the next three years, positioning the state at the forefront of the global effort to combat modern slavery.

“It might seem like a foreign concept to many, but modern slavery is all around us,” he said.

“It’s happening right now on farms in regional NSW, in shops and construction sites in our cities, perhaps even in a house down the street.”

Key elements of the plan include removing products of modern slavery from public procurement and fostering responsible business practices in the private sector, establishing a support and referral hotline for those in modern slavery and equipping frontline workers to identify and report modern slavery.

Dr Cockayne said, “We see women and children made vulnerable through domestic and family violence; cleaners and security guards working in office blocks, caught in the grip of debt bondage; girls forced to marry here in NSW or overseas; and people living with disability who are exploited in segregated workplaces or in institutional care”.

“Everyone has a human right to be free from slavery, but right now there are thousands of people being robbed of that right here in NSW.”

Issues that have come to light on the Coffs Coast since the Commissioner’s recent visit are living conditions for migrant workers, working conditions in the sex industry and Impacts of exposure to modern slavery in newly settled migrant communities.

Dr Cockayne said the strategic plan was developed through extensive consultation with experts, stakeholders and survivors of modern slavery.

More than 2,500 people contributed to the consultation process between September 2022 and May 2023.

“This is an ambitious plan compared to business as usual, but not when compared to the size of the problem we are facing,” said Dr Cockayne.

“There’s no time to waste.”

“It’s time to take a stand to end modern slavery in New South Wales,” he said.

By Andrew VIVIAN

Leave a Reply