Business 'best placed' to tackle modern slavery

Jennifer Westacott (left) and John McCarthy (Business Council of Australia and Wikipedia/DFAT)

The influence that big companies wield through their supply chains makes them strongly placed to lead the eradication of modern slavery, Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott said on Friday. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Ms Westacott addressed a Sydney Archdiocese seminar and expo on human trafficking and modern slavery on Friday. In her speech, Ms Westacott argued that the international scourge of modern slavery was “often shielded by the complexities of global trading relationships” and that big business could change that through their global supply chains.

“This is why business is best placed to take the lead on ending this odious practice. Australian businesses have to – and are – taking the lead on this issue,” Ms Westacott said.

“Increased global trade has lifted millions out of poverty and delivered higher standards of living to all Australians. But it has also increased the risk that supply chains are tainted by the use of forced labour.

“Large businesses with the might of their purchasing power have the means to uncover modern slavery in their supply chains and the economic firepower to cut it off at the source.”

Business leaders at the Sydney Archdiocesan event also heard from Moe Turaga, who left Fiji for Australia as a teenager and worked up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week on a grape farm in Victoria for money to send back to his widowed mother.

Two years later he discovered that his mother had received none of the money he had entrusted his cousin to send back to her.

“Angry, cheated, deceived, ashamed, powerless, trapped – all of these emotions and worse. That’s what it feels like to find out you’re someone else’s slave,” Mr Turaga said.

John McCarthy QC, chair of the Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce, said as one of the largest employers in the country, the Church is taking a leading role in ensuring its supply chains comply with the new laws. It is reviewing and revising its contractual and business practices.

FULL STORY

Business ‘has firepower’ to stop modern slavery (Sydney Morning Herald)

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