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Australia poised to tackle 'modern slavery' with laws passed for new commissioner

Business

Australia will soon get its first commissioner dedicated to tackling slavery, under laws introduced to parliament.

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The commissioner will tackle modern slavery in Australia and overseas and will work with the government to crack down on exploitation practices like human trafficking, forced labour and forced marriages.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said it was critical to disrupt the practices of modern-day slavery in Australia.

“We know modern slavery is present today in Australia,” he told parliament on Thursday.

“We’ve heard the horrific story of a Melbourne couple who secretly enslaved an elderly woman in their suburban home for close to a decade

“Other cases include individuals trafficked into sex work, and a young girl at risk of being sent overseas for a forced marriage. We must continue to tackle these crimes.”

The laws would establish the anti-slavery commissioner role and what their role would be.

Among the list of tasks set to be on the agenda are recommendations from a recent review of the modern slavery act.

The federal government has set aside $8 million over four years to set up the commissioner’s role and operations.

“We know measuring the true extent of modern slavery crimes is challenging crimes are often clandestine, sophisticated, and under reported.,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“The new independent anti-slavery commissioner will complement Australia’s response to modern slavery by working with others to raise the national profile of the issue of modern slavery.”

The attorney-general said the establishment of the commissioner would provide a mechanism for victims and survivors to come forward.

The commissioner will be appointed as part of a five-year term.

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