Call to action: Modern Slavery Meeting

  • Speech, check against delivery


Australia utterly condemns those who engage in slavery and human trafficking, forced labour and associated practices which are an affront to our collective humanity.

Australia's commitment to work with the international community to urgently address these egregious abuses is clear and ongoing.

Our regional cooperation particularly through the Bali Process on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime was established in 2002 and that's an important part of our work.

Last month with co-chair Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Australia launched the world's first regional business/government partnership to address modern slavery.

The inaugural Bali Process Government and Business Forum was supported by all Bali Process member countries and 24 ministers and over 30 global business leaders attended this event in Perth. The Business Forum was led by Mr Andrew Forrest of Australia and Mr Eddy Sariaatmadja of Indonesia, both of whom are distinguished businessmen and generous philanthropists.

The Process adopted a business led work plan under which business will develop proposals for practical steps that governments and business can take together to eliminate modern slavery and this will be presented for government consideration at next year's Bali Process ministerial meeting, which will be held in Indonesia.

This is an historic development, in a region estimated by the ILO to contain over half the world's people subject to forced labour.

The priority areas of our work plan include ethical employment, supply chain transparency and safeguards and redress mechanisms.

In our aid program Australia continues to focus on safe migration and combating human trafficking as a core part of our preventative approach.

In December last year I renewed our commitment to further funding of $20,000,000 for the Triangle in ASEAN program delivered in partnership with the ILO and this program sits alongside our other flagship investment to build and strengthen criminal justice responses to human trafficking.

It's a $50,000,000 investment in the Australia/Asia program to combat trafficking in persons and this program is also assisting countries in the region to implement their obligations under the 2015 ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons and its Plan of Action.

Australia is committed to working with our business community to combat modern slavery wherever it exists including in our country and Madam Prime Minister, the Australian government has confirmed that we will introduce Modern Slavery legislation, similar to that in the United Kingdom requiring large Australian businesses to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery where it exists in supply chains and this will make a difference.

Australian businesses have in fact endorsed and indeed embraced this approach, as Andrew Forrest can attest.

So, colleagues I reaffirm Australia's commitment to stand with global leaders this evening through this call to action. We can, we will make a difference.

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