Australian Catholic University (ACU) marked the Feast Day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of modern slavery victims and human trafficking, on Monday 8 February. The university community draws inspiration from Saint Bakhita as it works to address these issues in today’s world.
ACU is committed to tackling modern slavery practices at every level and is working closely with the Australian Catholic Anti-Slavery Network (ACAN). ACU’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis was recently appointed to the Domus 8.7 Committee.
Domus 8.7 is an Australia-wide network that assists victims of modern slavery and those trapped in forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage or human trafficking. It provides access to free legal advice, housing assistance, health care, financial advice and welfare support to people who face exploitation.
“Millions of people around the world are caught in conditions of modern slavery, often in the poorer regions,” Professor Skrbis said.
“What we may not realise is that there are also many victims closer to home. An estimated 15,000 people are affected by modern slavery in Australia alone.”
Domus 8.7 comes from the Latin word ‘Domus’ meaning ‘home’ and ‘target 8.7’ of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“In living the ACU mission, we are called to do what we can as an organisation, and as individuals, to promote awareness and to take action on modern slavery practices,” Professor Skrbis said.
“It is important to understand how to identify and assist people who may be victims of these practices.”
Professor Skrbis said his appointment to Domus 8.7 further supported the efforts of ACU’s dedicated Eradicating Modern Slavery working group. This group works with ACAN to assess and mitigate the risk of modern slavery practices in the university’s supply chain.
“We all have a part to play in honouring the inherent dignity of each human being, and this includes acting to ensure fair treatment and decent working conditions for all people. Education is an important aspect of this work and the university looks forward to working closely with ACAN and Domus 8.7 to further these aims.”
Honouring the legacy of Saint Bakhita
Saint Bakhita herself was sold into slavery as a child. Professor Skrbis hopes that the university community will draw inspiration from the example she set of faith, courage and dignity in fighting for her freedom in the later part of her life.
She has been named as the patron saint of ACU’s new Blacktown Campus which will open in March.
With thanks to ACU.