New research from Walk Free has revealed alarming evidence of modern slavery in Australia and its Pacific Island neighbours. The region is growing increasingly vulnerable to modern slavery due to poverty, lack of effective policing, migrant worker schemes and climate induced displacement.
The Walk Free study assessed the nature of slavery across the region, drawing on grassroots knowledge in eight countries in the Pacific region, including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. In all eight countries, at least one, but often several forms of modern slavery were identified, including human trafficking, forced labour, sexual exploitation, and forced marriage.
According to the research, the risk of exploitation of vulnerable people in the Pacific region needs to be tackled with a strong coordinated response.
The report calls for coordinated action from governments, civil society, business leaders, development partners, faith leaders, and community leaders and chiefs. It also makes a number of recommendations including culturally specific awareness raising campaigns to improve understanding and help identification of victims, training for police and prosecutors and the development of support services.
Walk Free is a part of the Minderoo Foundation and produces the Global Slavery Index, the world’s most comprehensive study on the prevalence of slavery.