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National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-24

On 21 February, the Law Council made a submission to the Australian Border Force regarding the Australian Government’s Public Consultation Paper on the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-24. This will build upon the current National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19, driving Australia’s efforts to combat modern slavery over the next five years.

In its submission, the Law Council responded to the Australian Government’s proposed 12 key goals for its new national action plan. It emphasised that, while Australia has a strong criminal law framework that criminalises the human rights abuses of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, an overarching strategy accounting for all stakeholders, including governments, companies, civil society and survivors is required, to eliminate modern slavery at its source and provide effective remedies for its victims. These responses should be underpinned by a human rights approach.

It is critical to ensure that traffickers are successfully prosecuted under the criminal justice system, but not at the expense of victims, who must be supported in a manner that upholds their dignity and rights. Going forward, the Law Council recommended that it is fundamental that immigration outcomes and support services for victims of slavery are not conditioned upon cooperation with the criminal justice system.

The Law Council further emphasised that there is an important task ahead to communicate, implement and build upon the recently commenced Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth), which was a key achievement of the Australian Government under the previous national action plan. It also emphasised its willingness to work with the Australian Government in support of this objective.

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