At our May 2019 club meeting the Zonta Club of Sydney welcomed Professor Jennifer Burn as our guest speaker. Professor Burn has been appointed the interim Anti-Slavery Commissioner in NSW – and as we learnt she is only the second person world-wide to have been appointed as an Anti-Slavery Commissioner. With the NSW Modern Anti-Slavery Act, NSW is leading the way in Australia to combat modern slavery practices.
In her enlightening talk, Professor Burn gave us some statistics around modern slavery, which may include forced labour, servitude and forced marriage. Much of the information around forced marriage ties in with the Zonta International focus on ending child marriage across the world, although it is not only young women under the age of 18 who may be forced into marriage they do not consent to. In Australia, forced marriage is illegal. Those who may be experiencing forced marriage, or for more information, there is a website, http://www.mybluesky.org.au which provides resources.
Another area of modern slavery involves people who have been trafficked into Australia or other countries, and who may be kept in servitude. Of the approximately 60,000 people annually who the Department of Immigration report are undocumented or unlawful residents, there may be a number who are exploited.
Under the NSW Modern Slavery Act, which has been passed through parliament, all NSW Government departments will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure any goods or services they procure are not a product of modern slavery. Through this the NSW Government will be leading the way in ensuring services are not tainted by modern slavery.
We thank Professor Jennifer Burn for her talk, and for further information and resources, you can also access the Anti-Slavery Australia website here.