It would be surprising to the rest of the world that slavery and forced labour are still present in Australia. Although this has taken a modern form, this human rights issue is still very much around to this day. Some cases involve sex workers that are in bad working conditions, factory and construction workers that work extreme hours while getting little pay and it’s even present in a more private context where women are forced into their relationships. Thankfully there are many Australian anti-slavery books available in the market that help educate the people about this pressing and disturbing issue.
History in Australia
Based on recent research, legalized slavery and forced labour was present in Australia, and the history from Australian anti-slavery books say that those from aboriginal descent were taken from their homes and forced to work at sugar plantations and lands for cattle for little to no pay. There were also reports of stolen wages as well. The aboriginals during the 1860s to 1870s were forced to work for up to 16 hours, submitting them to extreme exhaustion and trauma. The reports say that they had no choice but to comply to the captors, and they regret not being able to live and work for their dreams- and they certainly weren’t in the plantations and cattle properties.
Throughout the years, more and more laws were implemented in order to protect them from the harsh conditions of slavery and forced labour. Australian anti-slavery books mention that it was up until the 1970s when the whole concept was abolished, and they got their freedom again. However, in 1824, slavery in all forms was officially illegal in the country. Today, those whose lineage have been victims of this human rights issue are now fully protected and they could guarantee that they won’t fall under prey again.
Australian law says that those who are caught practicing slavery in any form could serve as long as 25 years in prison. The Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995 is a slavery and forced labour victim’s key into getting protected and being given justice today. Forced marriage also falls under this law – and this is a more modern form of the human rights issue.
According to Australian anti-slavery books, forced marriage and sexual exploitations fall under the categories as well. In forced marriage, women – usually minors, as usually paid off to marry much older men .Those who usually fall prey to this are foreign workers looking for an easy ticket for a visa and those daughters who come from highly impoverished families. This could equate to slavery since they have been forced to be tied to an unwanted marriage, and they’ve been robbed of a decent future.
Sexual exploitation is also a form of forced labour. Sex workers usually work with very bad conditions and their bosses don’t exactly give them enough protection for them to surely get out alive each time. The sex business is one of the biggest industries that involve human trafficking. Normally, the bosses “dispatch” women to clients and they get most of the women’s pay. This leaves the women living on almost nothing, and they have no choice but to stay because they are usually threatened by the boss if they even think of doing so. Most, if not everyone, in the sex business are merely forced and tricked into being in the industry that they are in. Australian anti-slavery books will say that the sex industry in Australia is one of the biggest, thus, enabling this modern form of slavery and forced labour.
How we’re fighting
There are now many organizations in Australia that have this cause. Anti-Slavery Australia is a non-government organization that “works to abolish slavery.” Human Trafficking Org in Australia is also one of the most prominent NGOs that are fighting with them. This has also spilled over to the academe, as there are regular classes that aim to educate students about the history of slavery and forced labour – just like how it was told in Australian anti-slavery books.
Universities have been very aggressive in educating the youth about this rather sensitive part of Australian history. Jennifer Burn, the director of Anti-Slavery Australia, is also a professor at the University of Technology Sydney. She teaches human trafficking and law reform. This is quite perfect for her as she uses the school in spreading the word about her advocacy. With the help of Australian anti-slavery books, she could also back up her lessons with facts and research.
What you can do
For an immigrant hoping to work in Australia, one must look up very thoroughly about Australian labor laws and fair wages so that they know if they truly are getting in the country in a legitimate way. This is crucial in order to be extra sure that they’ll be living decently and well once they get into the country. The individual must look up the company, and if they feel like they are getting into something dodgy, they must ask questions to the employer and they can even check and verify the company details with the Australian government.
If an individual thinks that a person is a victim of slavery and forced labour, they must not hesitate to contact anyone to help them get them out of their situation. There are many ways of knowing if one is a victim, from their little habits to the way they tell you stories. The victims are also usually afraid to voice out what’s on their mind, and it is important to be patient with them. The key here is to let someone know, and to provide a safe haven towards the victims. An individual could also offer a shoulder to cry on, as these victims are sure to be traumatised with their experience, and even the least amount of support could mean the world to them.