Date: 6 Dec 2018
Last week, Australia joined the likes of the UK, France and other nations to have specific legislation that formally brings business into efforts to address modern slavery – the Modern Slavery Bill was passed last week and is now awaiting royal assent.
This achievement is the culmination of many years of advocacy by social justice and anti-slavery campaigners, and with the current state of affairs in the Australian Parliament and an impending election, it went through in the nick of time.
While groups have been quietly working towards a corporate reporting requirement on slavery behind the scenes for many years, the real push for the Act came when UK Prime Minister Theresa May and mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest started to directly pressure former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Since the UK passed its law in 2015, May has been pushing other Commonwealth states to introduce legislation on modern slavery, which she called “the greatest human rights challenge of our time.” The issue has since been on the agenda at the 2016 Global Summit on Migration, the 2017 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and more recently at last week’s G20 summit. It’s also at the forefront of the Bali Process Government and Business Forum, which Australia co-chairs with Indonesia.