Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

New initiatives to combat modern slavery

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jason Wood MP
    Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs

    Senator The Hon Marise Payne
    Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

    Attorney-General The Hon Christian Porter MP
    Minister for Industrial Relations, Leader of the House

Today, the Government announces new initiatives to strengthen its response to modern slavery, enhance support for victims, and bolster implementation of the Modern Slavery Act.

The Government will establish a Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group to provide advice on key issues and strengthen business engagement to effectively implement the Modern Slavery Act.

The Advisory Group will include representatives from business, academia and civil society. 

“The Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to partnering with business and civil society to combat modern slavery,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

The Government will also establish a Modern Slavery Recognition Scheme to acknowledge those who demonstrate excellence in innovation or collaboration to improve supply chain transparency to combat modern slavery.

The Government has released a public consultation paper to inform development of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-24.

The National Action Plan will set Australia’s strategic framework to combat modern slavery, building on a range of existing initiatives. The closing date for submissions is 31 January 2020.

The Government will also change eligibility requirements to give victims of forced marriage greater access to the Support for Trafficked People Program, once the current trial period ends on 31 December 2020.

“Changes to the Support for Trafficked People Program recognises the need to provide comprehensive, effective and tailored support without requiring forced marriage victims to participate in the criminal justice process,” Minister Ruston said.

Minister Payne said that today’s announcements build on a range of recent regional initiatives to further enhance Australia’s response to these crimes.

“Eliminating these deplorable crimes requires systematic responses addressing criminal justice and law enforcement, human rights, development, commercial and social policy and welfare issues,” she said.

“This year, Australia joined the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking, and announced a decade-long commitment to strengthen the criminal justice response to human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

“We continue to promote regional collaboration through co-chairing the Bali Process with Indonesia,” Minister Payne added.

Attorney-General Porter said: “Today’s announcements build on the Government’s efforts to address the serious issue of exploitation of workers through implementing recommendations of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce.”

This includes providing additional funding to the Fair Work Ombudsman to conduct investigations, improve migrant workers’ understanding of their workplace rights and introduce criminal sanctions for serious workplace exploitation.

Today’s announcements were made at the 11th meeting of the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery.

The meeting brings together experts from 11 government agencies and 18 industry bodies and civil society organisations. Since its establishment in 2008, collaboration through the National Roundtable has helped deliver significant reforms to strengthen Australia’s response to human trafficking and modern slavery.

More information about Australia’s efforts to combat modern slavery is available at: