NSW appoints first anti-slavery commissioner

International lawyer and professor of global politics Dr James Cockayne has been appointed as the first NSW anti-slavery commissioner.

Dr James Cockayne

Announcing the appointment on Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Speakman said Dr Cockayne has a wealth of experience working with governments, the private sector and international organisations to combat modern slavery.

“Dr Cockayne has spent years developing policies which can help communities to identify and respond to modern slavery,” Mr Speakman said.

Australia became the second country in the world to enact anti-slavery laws in 2018, and NSW is the first Australian State or Territory to introduce standalone modern slavery legislation.

As anti-slavery commissioner Dr Cockayne will be tasked with overseeing compliance with those laws.

He’ll have broad oversight over government policies addressing modern slavery, issue codes of practice, and maintain a public register identifying government agencies which do not comply.

He will also help identify and support victims of modern slavery, advocate for action to combat modern slavery and cooperate with businesses and non-governmental organisations combatting modern slavery.

It’s estimated that 40 million people around the world are experiencing severe exploitation for the financial gain of others under modern slavery

The laws, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, require government agencies and local councils to take reasonable steps to ensure goods and services aren’t produced by modern slavery.

State owned corporations are also required to monitor the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains.

Dr Cockayne takes up the five year position from August.

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