New Push to Halt Imports Made by Slavery

The federal government is ploughing millions of dollars into its five-year plan to put Australia at the forefront of eradicating modern slavery, sometimes used in the manufacture of products imported here.

Almost 25 million people in the Asia-Pacific Region alone are estimated
to be enslaved in global supply chains.   Credit: Bloomberg

Australia's world-leading attempts to tackle modern slavery around the globe will be empowered with a $10.6 million national action plan which was funded in the last budget. The funding is also designed to help equip businesses to manage supply chain risks and assist international partners to address modern slavery and human trafficking.

Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, Jason Wood, said this week that $4.4 million over five years in grant funding would be available for organisations to deliver projects that will assist in preventing and eliminating modern slavery.

The Australian Border Force will lead the design and implementation of the national plan, which has been developed through extensive community consultation, including a public consultation paper which received 47 written submissions and 27 community workshops with civil society, unions and academia.

Modern slavery is a term used to describe serious exploitation. It encompasses the worst forms of child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, slavery-like practices, forced marriage and deceptive recruiting for labour or services. The term ‘modern slavery’  does not include practices like substandard working conditions or underpayment of workers, although these practices are also harmful and may be present in some situations of modern slavery.

Mr Wood said the new five-year national plan would also support vulnerable individuals at risk of modern slavery as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on supply chains, which union movements and humanitarian groups say has highlighted the importance of ensuring that the human rights of workers in supply chains are upheld.

Taking action to combat modern slavery makes good business sense. Companies that make such an effort in their operations and supply chains can protect against possible business harm and improve the integrity and quality of their supply chains. They can also increase profitability, investor confidence and access to financing opportunities.

Colless Young is a Licensed Customs Broker and International Freight Forwarder. We offer professional advice on all aspects of import procedures, including clearance through Customs and Quarantine, at all Australian ports and airports. Our logistics services cover air and sea freight, including exports, warehousing and trucking.