Today, I spoke at the Salvation Army’s 2017 Walkathon to support the important cause of ending modern slavery. The Freedom Partnership is the Salvos’ national initiative to raise money that will go towards mobilising community, business and government to realise their contributions to modern slavery and it will help victims of modern slavery in crisis through the Australian Freedom Fund.
I’ve included a transcript of my speech below:
Good morning and thank you for inviting me once again to speak before you all set off for the annual Salvation Army Aged Care Plus walkathon to raise money for the Freedom Partnership to end modern slavery.
I would like to start by acknowledging and paying my respects to the tradition owners of the land where we are gathered this morning, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and their elders past and present.
I would also like to once again thank Aged Care Plus CEO Sharon Callister and her team for inviting me back to speak at the annual walkathon for the third year in a row. I must be doing something right!
It was very pleasing to read that $100,000 was raised by the Aged Care Plus team and the volunteers who took part in last year’s walkathon. I am sure that those much needed funds will go towards some worthy initiatives that are working toward the eradication of modern slavery.
In addition to the funds raised, the 2016 Walkathon achieved some incredible results:
- 2 women were returned to the safety of Australia after being trafficked
- Emergency support was provided for a mum and 4 children after escaping slavery
- And food assistance was provided for 30 exploited farm workers
I’m proud to support an organisation that does such amazing work.
The estimated number of 4,300 people falling victim to slavery here in Australia is a number that is way too high and it is a number that would surprise most people in our community.
It is pleasing to see that the Attorney General’s Department is currently in the middle of a consultation process to define the way that Government responds to this issue. While the initial focus of working with the business community to combat modern slavery and require improved supply chain transparency is a welcome move in relation to larger companies, I also believe that smaller companies can play their part.
I am a business owner as well as an elected representative in the community. I strongly believe that small and medium sized business can also play a huge role to play in raising awareness and working with employees and their local communities to ensure that modern slavery is both acknowledged and eradicated.
As a business owner for over 30 years I have employed and worked with many people who have come to Australia to live and work. While we employ them, I also believe our responsibility goes further. We need to keep an eye out for their health and wellbeing and to ensure that they not being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people in our community. That might relate to where and how they are living and many other things.
As a small business owner I also be we can question our supply chains and make the choice to support larger businesses who are transparent and taking active steps to combat human slavery.
I love coming along to the walkathon and meeting and speaking with you all. It is through your generosity and determination to make a difference to the lives of others that really shines through and I wish you all the best for the walk ahead.