INTHEBLACK July/August 2023 - Magazine - Page 25
F E AT U R E
AT A GLANCE
Modern slavery affects
nearly 50 million people
around the world every day,
in the form of forced labour,
forced marriage and more.
A review of Australia’s
Modern Slavery Act 2018
could result in an increase
in the Act’s enforcement
and oversight powers.
Accountants play a key
role in identifying incidents
of modern slavery, so an
understanding of modern
slavery is crucial.
Despite the growing global push to eradicate it, the number
of people trapped in modern slavery worldwide has increased
in recent years. Can Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 be
fine-tuned for greater impact?
Words Megan Breen
A child attends a Labour
Day protest in Dhaka,
Bangladesh, May 2016.
When Dr Katherine Christ tries to
put modern slavery into context for people
struggling to see how they can be part of the
solution, she does it very simply.
“Would you buy a person?” she asks.
A senior lecturer in accounting at the
University of South Australia, Christ is
an expert in accounting for modern slavery
risk, as well as risk management in business
operations and supply chains. She regularly
engages with multiple stakeholders on the
topic of modern slavery.
The global economy relies on corporate
sourcing and procurement practices along
complex transnational supply chains. Some
goods and services that find their way
to consumers are sourced in contexts
tainted by modern slavery, including forced
labour and human trafficking.
Christ believes that unravelling supply chains
is the key to addressing the problem.
“Some people give me a horrified look, and
I explain that you have got to take your supply
chain seriously. If you wouldn’t buy a human
being, then let’s make sure that’s not happening
in your supply chain,” she says.
The term “modern slavery” is typically applied
to human trafficking, slavery, servitude, forced
labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, deceptive
recruiting for labour services and child labour.
Despite global efforts, including through the
adoption of the Sustainable Development
Goals (Target 8.7) to end modern slavery
among children by 2025, and universally by
2030, the problem is getting worse, says Christ.
The Global Estimates of Modern Slavery report
estimates that 49.6 million people were in some
form of slavery in 2021. This figure includes
an estimated 15,000 people living in conditions
of modern slavery in Australia. That is about
10 million more than the previous estimate in