To mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2020 (30 July), the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network (ACAN) released its first annual report entitled Eradication of Modern Slavery Catholic Action in Australia highlighting that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the risk of modern slavery in Australia.
The Media Release which accompanied the launch of the report stated: “ACAN warns that migrants, refugees and temporary visa holders now find themselves in increasingly insecure work because of the current economic downturn.”
ACAN, which is coordinated by the Anti-Slavery Taskforce of the Archdiocese of Sydney formed in December 2019 and is made up of 32 Catholic entities including dioceses, schools, universities and organisations across the finance and investment, health, aged care and welfare sectors.
“This work is more critical than ever at a time when the risk of modern slavery has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic since those at greatest risk of exploitation, such as migrants, refugees and temporary visa holders find themselves in increasingly insecure work because of the current economic downturn” said John McCarthy, Chair of the Anti-Slavery Taskforce and Australia’s former Ambassador to the Vatican.
In an address for the launch of the report Archbishop Anthony Fisher of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney called out the NSW Government for “stalling for time” after having declared the NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018 a “moral imperative” in 2018. He said “Disgrace and dishonour it has been that for many years our community was blind, deaf and mute to the problem of modern slavery and human trafficking … But how much more disgraceful and dishonourable after it has publicly recognised this evil, moved to eradicate it from our supply chains and by other action, and then thwarted such measures apparently so businesses and consumers may continue to benefit from slavery.”
For more information about the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney Anti-Slavery Taskforce, visit their website or follow them on Facebook: @ shopforgood. The report Eradication of Modern Slavery Catholic Action in Australia is available from the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network website. For more about the launch of the report see these articles in The Catholic Weekly and The Sydney Morning Herald.
For Archbishop Fisher’s full address at the launch see here.