45 Million Slaves, Says Andrew Forrest's Global Slavery Index - Hope 103.2

45 Million Slaves, Says Andrew Forrest’s Global Slavery Index

Australian billionaire and Christian believer Andrew Forrest has released his 2016 Global Slavery Index, showing that 45 million are now trapped in slavery.

By Clare BruceFriday 3 Jun 2016NewsReading Time: 4 minutes

Australian billionaire and Christian philanthropist Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest is making a William Wilberforce-like effort to end modern day slavery, by calling nations to account for their actions.

This week he released the 2016 version of his annual Global Slavery Index, a name-and-shame style list of the countries that are performing best and worst when it comes to human trafficking, slave labour, sex slavery and child marriage. It shows that over 45 million people are trapped in modern day slavery, with North Korea, Uzbekistan and Cambodia having the highest proportions of slavery by per head of population.

Countries working hardest to reduce it, however, including the Netherlands, USA and UK, and Australia. Surprisingly though, Australians have an estimated 4,300 people in their midst, in modern-day slavery situations.

The Global Slavery Index Making A Difference

Above: Andrew Forrest, billionaire and founder of the Walk Free Foundation

The Global Slavery Index is produced each year by the Walk Free Foundation, an organisation that Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola established in 2012 with a view to ending modern-day slavery. The first Index was released in 2013, with the support of Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton.

By shining a harsh spotlight on slavery statistics worldwide, Mr Forrest hopes the Index will spur businesses and governments into action, to take better responsibility for the workers in their care.

In the forward to this year’s 216-page report, Mr Forrest uses strong language, calling slavery “an evil and corrupt practice” and issuing a personal challenge to leaders worldwide.

“Personally, I unashamedly use business to help end slavery and I ask every chairman and chief executive to join me,” he writes. “Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform.”

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

“Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform.”

Mr Forrest first became aware of slavery when his then 15-year-old daughter travelled to Nepal to work at an orphanage, only to discover later that the girls she cared for were being groomed for sex slavery. He went back to Nepal to visit some orphanages himself, and the screams of one little girl, terrified at the sight of a man, left him haunted.

Young boy worker in Nepal

He went home, resigned from the role of CEO at his Perth mining company Fortescue Metals, and dedicated himself to making a difference to modern-day slavery. He also investigated whether there were slave workers in the supply chains linked to his own business, and was shocked to discover that his suppliers weren’t squeaky clean.

“I found slavery everywhere, simply because I looked,” he writes. “Leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are deluded and irresponsible.”

Putting An End To Religious Excuses For Slavery

Surprisingly, when Mr Forrest began campaigning against slavery, he discovered a religious resistance in some parts of the world.

“Wherever we’ve gone around the world we’ve found quite significant gaps,” he told Fairfax in 2014. The holy texts, no matter which one you turn to, has ambiguity in it around slavery. That, we knew, was being used as justification by slavers all over the world.”

To close that gap he formed an alliance between the major faiths, getting on board none other than Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb – one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam – along with leaders of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Orthodox and Shia Muslim faiths.

Together they signed a declaration in 2014 to form the Global Freedom Network, a faith-based organisation committed to ending modern slavery.

The network’s goals include getting all faiths to remove any slavery-related organisations from their supply chains and investments, seeing government and big business supply chains cleared of slavery,

Mr Forrest personally met with the Pope in early 2014 to discuss the issue.

Committed To A Lifetime Of Giving

Above: Andrew and Nicola Forrest.

Mr Forrest is a committed, church-going Christian known as a gifted entrepreneur, salesman and persuader, with a mixed record when it comes to Aboriginal land rights. He is said to conduct his business prayerfully, had a minister pray over his first iron-ore shipment in 2008, and gave a portion of his iron-ore sales that year to Chinese earthquake relief.

He’s one of Australia’s richest people and in 2001 he and his wife Nicola set up the Minderoo Foundation, which has given $222 million towards causes such as reducing slavery and Aboriginal disadvantage, the arts, and attracting the world’s best minds to Western Australia.

In 2014 he told Fairfax that his encounter with modern-day slavery has changed the way he lives. “To live a useful life you’ve actually got to help others,” he said.