Launch of the Global Estimates on Modern Slavery and Child Labour

  • Speech, check against delivery

Good evening Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an unpalatable truth that forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking are rampant in the world today.

Australia has strongly committed to working with the international community to address these egregious crimes, urgently.

We have staunchly supported implementation of Alliance 8.7 as a vehicle to accelerate coordinated global action to tackle these abuses and crimes.

At Leaders' Week last year, I was present to help launch the Alliance. Twelve months later, I am delighted to see the fruits of our collective efforts to progress Target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

This evening I acknowledge and applaud the UN agencies and the Walk Free Foundation on the release of the new 2017 Global Estimates on Forced Labour and Modern Slavery and Child Labour. Andrew and Nicola Forrest of Walk Free join us here tonight.

The statistics are truly shocking. The new Estimates are vital products to benchmark progress and inform effective policy making.

However, one person trafficked or enslaved is one person too many.

Australia has a long history of regional and global leadership on issues concerning people trafficking, people smuggling and related transnational crime, particularly through the Bali Process.

Last month, with co-Chair, Indonesian Foreign Minister HE Retno Marsudi, we launched the world's first regional business-government partnership to address modern slavery. The business side was co-chaired by Mr Andrew Forrest AO from Australia, Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and Walk Free, and Mr Eddy Sariaatmadja from Indonesia, founder and Chairman of Emtek. Both Andrew and Eddy are committed to corporate responsibility and accountability, and share a history of generous philanthropy. They were the most ideal choices for co-chairs.

The Forum was embraced by all Bali Process member nations and was attended by 37 Bali Process member countries, including 24 Ministers, and over 30 business leaders.

There was a strong spirit of cooperation, with businesses and governments welcoming the intent of the Forum.

The Forum agreed a business-led Work Plan under which business will develop proposals for practical steps governments and businesses can take to eliminate modern slavery, to be presented at next year's Bali Process Ministerial meeting, taking place in Indonesia. The emphasis is on government and business partnership.

Priority areas will include ethical employment, supply chain transparency, and safeguards and redress mechanisms.

When government and business work together, we can accelerate progress in eliminating modern slavery, forced labour and child labour.

This is an historic outcome in a region estimated by the ILO to contain over 56 per cent of the world's people subject to forced labour.

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

In December 2016, I renewed our commitment to a further funding of $20 million over ten years for the TRIANGLE in ASEAN program, delivered in partnership with the ILO.

This program sits alongside our other flagship investment to build and strengthen criminal justice responses to human trafficking, the $50 million Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Through this investment, we assist countries in the region to implement obligations under the 2015 ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons and its Plan of Action.

Domestically, I'm pleased to say Australia is committed to working with the business community to combat modern slavery in the supply chains of goods and services. Just now, I have advised UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, that the Australian Government has confirmed we will introduce modern slavery legislation, similar to the UK. It will require large Australian businesses to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains.

I am pleased to represent Australia at this event and reaffirm our commitment to stand together with Alliance 8.7 partners to combat modern slavery, forced labour and child labour.

I applaud the vital evidence base provided by the new Global Estimates launched here this evening.

Modern slavery, forced labour and child labour are an affront to our collective humanity.

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