By Clare Bruce
Many Australians don’t realise it, but an estimated 15,000 people are living under conditions of slavery in Australia today.
They include migrant workers working long hours on minimal wages; isolated and underpaid fruit-pickers on rural farms; child brides forced by their fathers to marry; and even children under child labour conditions at their worst.
To tackle this these issues head-on, Salvos Housing has joined forces with the Sisters of Charity Foundation to launch a new housing program aiming to rebuild the lives of slavery victims. The Anti-Slavery Housing Program will place survivors in transitional housing, helping them towards independent living.
Sisters of Charity Foundation CEO Reba Meagher said people forced into modern day slavery have little chance of entering the rental market alone, as they have no previous rental or employment history. The new program overcomes these problems.
“This approach also eliminates the need for the client to move again when they exit the program,” Ms Meagher said. “From the very beginning of their entry to the program, clients are setting up their own home and life with targeted support.”
Victims of slavery are a “little-known group of extremely traumatised and disadvantaged people”
Salvos Housing tenancy manager Cheri Erai-Collins described victims of slavery as a “little-known group of extremely traumatised and disadvantaged people”.
The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that at last count, around 15,000 people were living in slavery-like conditions in Australia on a daily basis. However because of the hidden nature of the problem, that figure could be even higher.
In 2018 Federal Parliament passed a Modern Slavery Act, requiring Australian companies with annual revenue of more than $100 million to report annually on the risk of human trafficking and exploitation in their supply chains.