Working towards a slavery-free Christmas

If you ask anyone in the community ‘What is slavery?’ you will receive a variety of answers.

Some would say it existed in the 1800s. Others would say it exists today in underdeveloped countries and nothing can be done about it, while some teenagers might say they are slaves to their parents when doing chores!

Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced or servile marriage, the exploitation of children and debt bondage are severe violations of human rights and serious crimes. Collectively these exploitative practices are often described as “Modern Slavery”.

The Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life (BCPL, a Commission of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, ACBC) has prepared a submission in support of a Modern Slavery Act and it is currently before the Australian Parliament. The ACBC wants the Parliament to pass a Modern Slavery Act that includes:

  • An independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner with the resources to drive efforts to eradicate modern slavery and hold large organisations accountable;
  • A requirement for all large organisations operating in or doing business in Australia – businesses, governments and not-for-profits to provide an annual public statement on steps they are taking to eradicate slavery from their organisation and supply chains, and
  • A central, publicly-accessible repository, to house the annual statements provided by large organisations.

It is important that Australia implements a consistent national legislative approach to eradicate modern slavery.

The Diocesan Social Justice Council asks that this Christmas you consider purchasing as gifts ‘slavery-proof products’ in an effort to reduce Modern Slavery.

The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide is a booklet that rates the fashion outlets which are attempting to address Modern Slavery. You might consider using the booklet to assist when Christmas shopping. Go to which empowers you to purchase from companies that treat their workers ethically. By doing so, you will encourage more companies to take action to work toward eradicating Modern Slavery.

There is an app, Good on You, which provides more than 1100 trusted ethical brand ratings. Download the apps to make a difference when making your Christmas gift choices.

If you are not happy with your favourite brand’s rating, contact the organisation and ask it to consider working toward eradicating Modern Slavery.

As individuals, we can make a difference.

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Alyson Segrott Image
Alyson Segrott

Alyson Segrott is the Professional Officer - Pastoral Support Unit in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle