Modern Slavery Response

Taking steps to eradicating modern slavery

A humble morning coffee is doing more than putting a skip in the step of staff at the Archdiocese of Hobart offices – it’s also bolstering growing efforts against modern slavery.

Starting with the suppliers of simple items including coffee, tea and chocolate the Archdiocese is working to raise awareness about modern slavery and bring about cultural change in the Church and its agencies across Tasmania.

Supported by slavery-free product morning teas, information posters, and presentations to staff, the Church is investing its efforts in helping people to understand that when purchasing items there can be a moral or ethical dimension to our choices.

Slavery-free morning teas helped raise awareness about modern slavery in the Archdiocese of Hobart

The Archdiocese of Hobart committed to a modern slavery strategy with the release of its first Modern Slavery Statement in 2021 – responding to the Federal Government’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 which became operational on January 1, 2019. Australia is the first country to include churches and not-for-profits as part of what is encompassed in the Modern Slavery Act 2018.

The Archdiocese of Hobart’s Modern Slavery Statement details our efforts to counteract modern slavery, including a supplier engagement strategy focused on high-risk categories, and the establishment of a Compliance Committee to oversee the delivery of e-learning modules and awareness resources for parishes and schools.

The Archdiocese of Hobart has examined its top suppliers and categorised them in terms of industries and risk, which is the beginning of a continuous improvement program. It has also joined a national coalition called the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network (ACAN), which, in 2021, released its inaugural 2020 report: ACAN Modern Slavery Statements.

The ACAN Report highlighted data from the Global Slavery Index 2018, which reported that 15,000 people are living in conditions of modern slavery on any given day in Australia. The report found that those working in agriculture, food processing, cleaning and security, domestic work, building, and construction are at higher risk of modern slavery.

In 2022, the Archdiocese released its second Modern Slavery Statement which is included in the Compendium of Modern Slavery Statements published by ACAN.

The Archbishop of Hobart said he was pleased that the modern slavery prevention program was laying a firm foundation within the Archdiocese’s agencies and controlled entities and called on people of goodwill to support the eradication of modern slavery.

“By continuing this work we become champions of human dignity and expand the social impact of our work beyond the borders of our state and even our nation to help make a better world for the glory of Jesus Christ,” His Grace said.

Our Patron Saint of all victims of modern slavery & human trafficking

Kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child, St Josephine Bakhita is a model of Christian hope and a patron for all victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Born in the Darfur region of Sudan in 1869, she was only a young child when she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders.

The trauma of her abduction and subsequent slavery caused her to forget her birth name. She was instead known as Bakhita (‘lucky’).

She was bought and given away to a succession of owners, some of whom badly mistreated and tortured her – including one who scarred her with 114 deep skin cuts.

In 1883, she was sold to the Italian Vice Consul of Sudan, Callisto Legani, who took her to Italy and gave her to another family to work as a nanny. 

When her mistress left Italy to visit Sudan, St Josephine Bakhita and the daughter to whom she was a nanny were placed in the care of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice. 

It was from the Canossian sisters that St Josephine Bakhita first learnt about Christianity. She later said that she had always known God in her heart but had not known who He was. She became a candidate for Baptism.

When her mistress returned to Italy to collect her, St Josephine Bakhita refused to leave the sisters.

The matter went to court and in 1889 it was ruled that St Josephine Bakhita was legally free.

Patron Saint of all victims of modern slavery & human trafficking, Josephine Bakhita

She opted to remain with the Canossian sisters. She was baptised and received Confirmation and her first Holy Communion from the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, who would later become Pope St Pius X. At her baptism, she took the names of Josephine, Margaret and Fortunata (Latin for the Arabic Bakhita).

She entered the Canossian novitiate and made her final religious profession in 1896.

Several years later she was transferred to the Canossian convent in the northern Italian city of Schio where for over 40 years she served her community through cooking, sewing, and as the convent’s portress. She also travelled and told her story to sisters who were preparing to serve in Africa.

St Josephine Bakhita became loved by the people of Schio.

During the Second World War locals thought her presence had protected the town when, despite the town being bombed, not one person living there died as a result.  

Once, when asked how she would treat her captors if she were to meet them, she replied that she would kneel and kiss their hands because if it had not been for them, she would not know Jesus Christ.

She died surrounded by her religious sisters at the Canossian convent on February 8, 1947.

Her feast day – February 8 – has been designated as an annual World Day of Prayer and action against human trafficking.