Lobbying on the Modern Slavery Bill in NSW and Cth Parliaments

Fighting for Justice Foundation has been constantly lobbying on both the NSW and Federal Modern Slavery Bills.

Fighting for Justice Foundation appeared before the Legislative Council Select Committee on human trafficking in New South Wales on Monday 29 May 2017 to present oral evidence in line with our legal submission to the inquiry, and was an active participant at the NSW Parliamentary Forum Discussion of the NSW Modern Slavery Bill on the 29 March 2018.  

Over the last few months, I have met with over 30 Federal Senators and MP’s as well as the Home Affairs Department in relation to the drafting of the Federal Modern Slavery Bill and provided several recommendations.... 

Join with us in calling for these recommendations to both Parliaments through joint lobbying activities. 

Please contact us if you would like to be a part of our lobbying team!

Fighting for Justice Foundation has been constantly lobbying on both the NSW and Federal Modern Slavery Bills, and was a part of the initial NSW Inquiry into both:  

  1. The Regulaiton of Brothels in NSW in August 2015 
  2. NSW Legislative Council’s Select Committee on Human Trafficking in 2017

and the Federal Inquiries into: 

  1. Amendments to the Commonwealth Criminal Code to include Human Trafficking: The Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Austral-Asia in October 2012 
  2.   Inquiry into Human Trafficking in February 2016 
  3. A Federal Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Bill in Austalia in 2017 

Fighting for Justice Foundation appeared before the Legislative Council Select Committee on human trafficking in New South Wales on Monday 29 May 2017 to present oral evidence in line with our legal submission to the inquiry, and was an active participant at the NSW Parliamentary Forum Discussion of the NSW Modern Slavery Bill on the 29 March 2018.  

Over the last few months, I have met with over 30 Federal Senators and MP’s as well as the Home Affairs Department in relation to the drafting of the Federal Modern Slavery Bill and provided several recommendations. 

Fighting for Justice Foundation also attended a number of round table forums in relation to the Modern Slavery Bill, including the United Nations Association of Australia Round Table Discussion on the Modern Slavery Bill on 15 September 2017 in Canberra, the Attorney-General Department’s Public Consultation in Sydney on 17 October 2017, and The Walk Free Foundation in partnership with The Salvation Army and Alex Hawke MP’s Federal Government Forum on the Modern Slavery Bill at Federal Parliament on the 15 February 2018.

Andrea Tokaji attended the ELEVATE Business Forum for a Day’s Workshop Seminar of Australia’s  Modern Slavery Act on 22 March 2018 in Sydney alongside NGO’s Government representatives and the corporate sector.

Fighting for Justice Foundation has also held our own Parliamentary event on the Modern Slavery Bill in NSW in line with International Women’s Day and our Anti-Slavery initiatives, including our preventative education programs: End the Demand: www.endthedemand.com 

It is important for advocates and lobbyists to continue clear messaging to both Parliaments and individual influencers of legislation in order to ensure a robust, holistic and human right compliant approach, particularly for the rights of vulnerable victims to rehabilitation and recovery. 

Here is Paul Green MLC at the event post introduction of NSW Parliaments introduction of their Modern Slavery Bill 2018 speaking to us about the importance of this legislation: 

Our recommendations to the Modern Slavery Bill have included the following considerations: 

Liability of the State for failing to prevent harm (sex slavery) from occurring in the legalised brothel industry: The legalisation of prostitution is incompatible with international human rights standards.

International instruments clearly define violence against women as including the “physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State”. The legalisation of an industry that facilities the perpetuated gender based and sexual violence and rape of women - known as legalised and decriminalised business of brothels falls clearly within this definition of State-sanctioned violence against women.

I urge the Parliament to consider this grave inconsistency of the jurisdiction’s legalised and decriminalised brothel industry with with international principles that calls the State to prevent harm from occurring to women and to protect them from violence - including sexual violence - and note that a lack of attention to this matter will result in a class-action law suit against the Government for their failure to prevent harm form occurring and protect the vulnerable from violence. The State has clear due diligence liability in this matter. 

We acknowledge that the legalisation and decriminalisation of brothel businesses and the selling of prostitution falls within the jurisdiction of States and Territories and therefore urge this matter to be raised at the next Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting as a matter of urgency.

An Inquiry into Brothels operating both legally and illegally across Australia is required to take place imminently in order to uncover the extent of sex slavery and forced prostitution in Australia as a matter of urgency. Currently, there is no transparency in brothel businesses. 

Our position is that no business or company should be exempt from complying with international human rights obligations to ensure slavery does not exist in their raw material and service supply chains, including an application of human rights due diligence practices and reporting. 

    1. Critical Exemptions: We welcome the Federal Government’s encouragement through the proposed legislation of voluntary transparency in supply chain reporting and the role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner in this, but note that the proposed $100 million threshold critically exempts high-risk industries such as brothels, nail salons, the agriculture and hospitality industries from reporting on slavery in their service supply chains. 
    2. High Risk Category: We propose therefore that high-risk industries such as brothels and nail salons should have a seperate category of mandatory reporting to ensure transparency, with the failure to report triggering powers of the Commissioner to further investigate, in partnership with law enforcement - if required. 
    3. Brothels as a High Risk Category: We note that voluntary good faith reporting should be encouraged in the legislation, however we urge the Parliament to consider adding the specific category of high-risk industry transparency in service supply chain mandatory reporting for brothels: in partnership with the proposed NSW Modern Slavery Bill. 
    4. UK MSA failure in including sexual exploitation: Failure to do so would result in neglecting the advice of the UK Parliament in  Lord McColl of Dulwich who stated that the failure of the UK Modern Slavery Act to address demand for sex trafficking was "a very serious oversight given that, according to the National Referral Mechanism figures, sexual exploitation is consistently the most prevalent form of human trafficking in England and Wales”, consistent with remarks from the UK Anti Slavery Commissioner as well as parliamentarians from the UK House of Lords. I urge the Australian Government not to repeat this grave mistake in failing to include the majority of the existing slavery in Australia from mandatory reporting requirements.
    5. Raw Material v Service Supply Chains: We note that there is a specific difference in the raw material and service supply chains of slavery within commercial organisation operations, and therefore the distinct categories of raw material and service supply chains require particular attention in the Bill.
    6. Additional categories for reporting: We urge Parliament to therefore consider the MSA (Cth) to include the following specific seperate categories for mandatory reporting, including: 
        1. high risk commercial organisations and businesses that fall below the prescribed threshold; 
        2. low risk commercial organisations within the threshold; 
        3. service supply chains;
        4. raw material supply chains; and 
        5. the human rights due diligence and preventative measures that the commercial organisation has taken to comply with the legislation and regulatory frameworks to eradicate slavery in compliance with the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Definitions: In order to ensure a robust definition and therefore thorough action on slavery - including investigations and prosecutions, it is imperative that the Modern Slavery Bill (Cth) 2018 includes all forms of slavery and exploitation, including the specific category of sex slavery and forced prostitution. We insist that the categories of sex slavery and forced prostitution be included within the definitions of “modern slavery” and “modern slavery offences”. 

    1. Offences: The offences of slavery as known in the Criminal Code (Cth) 1995 will also require amendments to include sex slavery and forced prostitution. 
    2. Sexual exploitation: We request that the (Cth) Bill is consistent in defining slavery with international definitions, ensuring consistency with the UN’s Trafficking Protocol in which exploitation is legally defined as including “the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation”, and international instruments which clearly defines violence against women as including  trafficking in women and forced prostitution”. 
    3. Support for Sex Slaves: We request that sex slaves and those who have experienced forced prostitution be considered under compensatory and victim of crime support schemes specifically, ensuring that these categories of slavery fall within the definition of  modern slavery’. Our position is that we wish to see the provision of exit programs and rehabilitation centres for sex workers wanting to exit the industry in each State and Territory across Australia. 
    4. Slavery and Slavery-like Offences: We urge the Parliament to consider including the following definitions to the Modern Slavery Bill (Cth) for consistency with international instruments and the NSW Bill’s Division 17 proposed categories of slavery and slavery-like offences in consistency with the Trafficking Protocol: 
            1. recruitment;
            2. transportation; 
            3. transfer; 
            4. harbouring; 
            5. receipt of persons; 
            6. by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion; 
            7. abduction; 
            8. fraud; 
            9. deception; 
            10. or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. 
            11. Exploitation to include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Human Rights Due Diligence Requirements: It has been noted by international academics that the most rigorous and effective legislative model for eradicating slavery in supply chains is one which mandates due diligence liabilities. It is imperative that the NSW’s Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2018 contain human rights due diligence reporting requirements as well as accountability measures for such practices. Human rights due diligence reporting and requirements for business need to be a central part of the Modern Slavery Bill to ensure business respond in a robust manner to slavery in their supply chains in a sustainable manner, in line wth the Sustainable Development Goals principles. 

We call upon the Parliament to consider our recommendations above in addition to our recommendations made to NSW Parliament in relation to the drafting of the Modern Slavery Bill (NSW) 2018, as attached.

Join with us in calling for these recommendations to both Parliaments through joint lobbying activities. 

Please contact us if you would like to be a part of our lobbying team!

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