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Faiths unite to end modern-day slavery

4 December 2015

Faiths unite to end modern-day slavery

Caption: Commissioners Floyd Tidd and James Condon sign the “Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery”.

Australia's two Salvation Army territorial commanders – Commissioners James Condon and Floyd Tidd – joined with Hindu, Islamic, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and various Christian leaders at Parliament House in Canberra to launch the Australian Freedom Network on 2 December.

The event was led by Commissioner Condon, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army's Australia Eastern Territory, which covers NSW, ACT and Queensland. He was supported by Commissioner Tidd, who is the leader of the Australia Southern Territory, which encompasses Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory.

“This network will bring together the faith communities of Australia to make a public commitment to develop practical actions to eradicate modern slavery in our nation,” Commissioner Condon said.

The senior religious leaders also signed the “Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery”, the same Joint Declaration of Global Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery signed last year in Vatican City at the launch of the Global Freedom Network. The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery was observed on Wednesday 2 December.

The Global Slavery Index estimates 35.8 million people are enslaved globally, with 3000 people estimated to be enslaved in Australia. In 2015, shocking abuses of people in Australian agriculture, food production and retail franchises have been exposed on an unprecedented scale.

“The cases that we know about represent only the tip of an iceberg,” said Commissioner Condon. “We must do more to close the gap between the victims we know about and the thousands still enslaved in Australia. Faith communities can play a critical role in this and be part of a global movement that prevents slavery in the first place. All of the world’s major faiths share universal values of dignity, freedom and social justice.”

The Global Freedom Network is founded on the premise that religion can be a powerful motivating force to inspire individual and community action both spiritually and practically. By signing the Joint Declaration, Australian faith leaders have made a commitment to measurable actions towards ending slavery in Australia for at least the next five years. Australians can join them in their efforts at www.afn.org.au

To read Commissioner Condon’s blog on fighting slavery, go to endslavery.salvos.org.au/blog/

By Simone Worthing

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