Modern slavery

Modern Slavery with Sally Irwin: Laws are not enough to end it

In this episode of our podcast, Ethical Antidotes, we talk to Sally Irwin, CEO of The Freedom Hub, an Australian non-profit organisation that works towards ending modern slavery.

This work includes supporting survivors as they rebuild their lives, and assisting organisations remediate when they have participated, actively or passively, in supporting the chain of modern slavery.

Modern slavery and human exploitation are a global problem across many workplace sectors, notably; hospitality, agriculture, even health and wellness.  Whilst Australia and the UK have laws attempting to tackle modern slavery, laws alone are not enough to address the extent of the problem, in part because modern slavery can be difficult to recognise.  Even if an employer is not directly involved in these abhorrent practices, they can be passive participants when they engage with suppliers and contractors who are the direct offenders. 

If you witnessed modern slavery would you be aware of it?  What are the signs?  Enslaved people are often quiet and reluctant to engage in conversations, restricted in their movements, lack ID in their wallet or purse, and wear unsuitable or worn out/dirty clothing to perform their daily work.  They might appear unusually regimented in their scheduling, working excessive shifts, and/or show signs of physical or psychological abuse.  If you suspect modern slavery, confrontation is not the correct approach; however, silence is not acceptable either. 

External and independent whistleblowing channels, like Your Call, provide an anonymous safe space for individuals to speak up about an issue, and are an ideal method for reporting allegations of slavery and exploitation.  In Australia, the Corporations Act 2001 provides protections and support for whistleblowers, including harsh penalties for causing detriment towards people making disclosures. 

At Clarity+, we encourage all organisations to have robust procurement practices, including vendor screening, and we challenge all companies to use the registries which record adherence to zero tolerance modern slavery policies and procedures.   Don’t wait for a law or penalty to require adherence, volunteer and show your support for your workforce and humanity in general, and register as an ethical organisation. 



Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Modern slavery vs human exploitation
  • Types of businesses where modern slavery is occurring
  • The role of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 in Australia
  • The role of whistleblowing in ending modern slavery and human exploitation
  • Recovery tools for those rescued from modern slavery, and those fleeing

Resources mentioned in this episode: