World Vision’s renowned anti-trafficking and slavery expert Melissa Stewart has been honoured with a Freedom Award from Anti-Slavery Australia.
Ms Stewart has worked to raise awareness of and combat the cruel practices of slavery and human trafficking for more than ten years.
“I am thrilled that human slavery and exploitation is being put in the spotlight with recognition of efforts to alleviate the suffering and bring an end to the inhumane practices,” said Ms Stewart. “It is critical that we continue to work together to make a difference and grant freedom to millions of vulnerable people in our region and around the world.”
The International Labour Organisation estimates that nearly 21 million people globally are victims of forced labour and exploitation. World Vision runs 47 anti-trafficking and child protection-related projects around the world.
The Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Awards were presented tonight at a function attended by Opposition Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek. The awards recognise individuals and organisations for their distinctive contribution and commitment to bringing an end to slavery, people trafficking and forced labour.
Other recipients of the award included Christine Carolan from Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans, Sr Marie White rsj from Sisters of St Joseph the Sacred Heart and the Human Trafficking Section of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
“There are a number of activists and NGOs in Australia and the region that have worked really hard over the last decade to highlight the responsibility of business, government and consumers in addressing the issue of exploitation. It is an honour to be recognised alongside of them,” Ms Stewart said.
In 2009 Ms Stewart joined World Vision as a senior adviser and since then has played an integral part in research and overseas program design and advocacy work. One of her recent achievements was working with World Vision to successfully lobby the Australian Government to take steps to eradicate slavery from its supply chain. This effort culminated in then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard making just such a commitment this year.
For a decade prior to joining World Vision Ms Stewart was based in the Mekong region, a global hotspot for trafficking in persons, and was involved in the early development of regional responses that are now models for the rest of the world.
Melissa Stewart is available for interview, please contact Gabrielle Brophy on 0407 575 112 or firstname.lastname@example.org