Slavery is not a word we hear too often in our day-to-day lives anymore. We certainly don’t associate it with developed countries like Australia. But slavery still exists, and it’s more common than you might think.
‘Modern slavery’ describes exploitative practices, including human trafficking, servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruitment for labour or services, and forced marriage – all serious crimes under Australian law. It is estimated that up to 15,000 people are living in conditions of modern slavery in Australia.
New South Wales was the first state or territory in Australia to introduce standalone legislation to address modern slavery, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW), which came into effect on January 1, 2022. Dr James Cockayne was appointed as the state’s inaugural Anti-slavery Commissioner in August 2022.
As well as working with the NSW government to ensure NSW and Local Government sectors are not buying products of modern slavery, Dr Cockayne will also be working to identify and provide assistance to victims of modern slavery, raise community awareness, engage with industry, organisations and service providers to combat modern slavery across the state.
As part of his efforts to combat modern slavery, the Commissioner is embarking on a series of visits to rural and regional NSW in the coming months.
These visits are an important opportunity for Dr Cockayne to listen and learn from a wide range of stakeholders about the challenges facing communities in regional areas and the opportunities to work together to prevent and address modern slavery.
This includes meeting with community organisations, businesses and industry, government, people at risk of or with lived experience of modern slavery, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The Rotary Club of Sydney’s Rotary Peace Group has made modern slavery, domestic violence and elder abuse one of its key focuses for 2023. Peace Group Chair Sy Laga’aia has been asked by the Office of the NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner to be the point of contact for Rotary clubs and districts for the Commissioner’s upcoming tour.
“As Rotarians, our goal is to promote integrity, advance world understanding, goodwill and peace, and provide service to others,” Sy said.
“We recognise that freedom is a fundamental human right, and we believe that it is our collective responsibility as a community to address the world’s most persistent problems.
“Australia should be free of modern slavery and human trafficking, and we must work together to achieve this goal.”
2023 Tour Dates Given the important role Rotary members play in their local communities, NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner Dr James Cockayne (pictured) would welcome the opportunity to engage with Rotary members in any of the following locations: Wagga Wagga – May 2 Albury – May 3 Kempsey and Coffs Harbour – May 22-25 Griffith – May 29-30 Dubbo and Bathurst –June 1-2 Goulburn – August 9-11 Newcastle and Port Macquarie – Dates TBC Wollongong and Nowra – Dates TBC For further information on the Commissioner’s tour of NSW, contact Sy Laga’aia via firstname.lastname@example.org