The issue of modern slavery was highlighted at an event at the NSW Parliament on Thursday 4 July 2019 titled “The War on Slavery: Kevin Highland OBE” In Conversation with ABC’s Andrew West. 

Modern slavery is one of the 21st century’s greatest ills and a crime against humanity on a huge scale.

In 2019, despite being illegal everywhere, 40-45 million people live in slavery. Two thirds in our region. A quarter, children. The largest number of slaves the world has ever seen.

Except they’re not seen. Most of us are deeply shocked to discover the products and services we use every day are made by people forced, defrauded or coerced into work, trapped in debt bondage or serfdom, often trafficked, under threat of violence, unable to walk away, their most basic human rights denied for others’ profit and our consumer benefit.

Even in Australia, the ‘lucky country’, research says 15,000 slaves are unseen. Global cost-cutting means it’s everywhere. Clothing, footwear, jewellery, make-up, phones, computers, tea, coffee, fruit, agriculture, fishing, construction… AUS$150 billion dollar industry. Add 152 million child labourers denied childhood, education, health and it’s one of the greatest challenges and shames of our time.

Jane Jeffes (Co-Founder War On Slavery)

The event on 4 July focussed on the extent of the problem of modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking in 2019, measures that need to be undertaken to end it, the status of the NSW Modern Slavery Act and a call to action.

The audience at the event was made up of politicians, business leaders, human rights advocates, auditors, lawyers, NGO’s, media, educators and concerned citizens.

It was hosted by The Hon Adam Searle MLC with the support of NGO’s including War on Slavery, Oxfam and Stop the Traffic.

Fuzz Kitto (National Co-director, STOP THE TRAFFIK Australian Coalition).

Other speakers included Jennifer Burn (NSW Interim Anti-Slavery Commissioner); Parliamentary Host The Hon Adam Searle (Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations); Fuzz Kitto (National Co-director, STOP THE TRAFFIK Australian Coalition); James Dunlop (Oxfam Australia Advocacy Lead) and Jane Jeffes (Co-Founder War On Slavery).  Special guest Paul Green (former Christian Democrat MLC, sponsor of private member’s Modern Slavery Bill 2018).

Jennifer Burn (NSW Interim Anti-Slavery Commissioner)

Around this time last year, the NSW Parliament passed its Modern Slavery Act, nearly 3 years after the UN set deadlines of 2025 to end child labour and 2030 to eradicate all modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking.

The Federal Government’s Modern Slavery Act came into effect on 1 January 2019.

A 90 second video was shown at the event War On Slavery summing up the scale of the problem and the complicity of each one of us.

Another short 90 sec highlights package was produced from the event:

The proceedings at the event at NSW Parliament was broadcast on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Report, program and podcast, first broadcast on Wednesday July 17. Listen here:  The ABC also published the audio of all speeches from the evening as online extras:

WAR ON SLAVERY  was founded by Jane Jeffes and  Becky Honey.

It aims to build public awareness and harness people power to shift the issue to the forefront of public consciousness and change the moral compass.

A documentary factual TV series has been approved for philanthropic funding.  Further information, details of the social impact campaign and how to donate can be found here:

For further information, please contact Becky Honey [email protected] or Jane Jeffes [email protected]


In any age, slavery benefits the rich and privileged and exploits the vulnerable, poor and defenceless.

In the 21stcentury, Pope Francis and other world leaders call it a crime against humanity, a terrible reflection on the moral, economic and social health of the world.

The Global Slavery Index estimates:

40 million in slavery

10 million children

 72% women and children

70-80% in Indo-China region

25 million people in Asia Pacific (our backyard, our trading partners)

16 million people in supply chains

AUD $18billion in supply chains in Australia – in products we buy and use every day

an estimated 15,000 enslaved in Australia

 152 million in child labour – half in dangerous conditions,

denied childhood, education, health, development

mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers

Refugees and migrants particularly vulnerable

Exploitation * Coercion

Physical Abuse * Emotional Abuse *

No Freedom

No Dignity

No Basic Human Rights

A global economy benefiting the privileged at the cost of the most vulnerable

human misery and deprivation on a colossal scale

Modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking and child labour are a disease of poverty and gender inequality running through almost all UN Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty; Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well-being; Quality Education; Gender Equality; Sanitation and Clean Water; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry Growth and Infrastructure; Reduced Inequalities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Peace Justice and Strong Institutions; and Partnerships to Achieve The Goals.