The 2023 Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Awards were celebrated at the University of Technology Sydney on Friday 24 March. Anti-Slavery Australia was delighted to celebrate with so many of our friends and colleagues and we sincerely congratulate all the award recipients for their outstanding achievements.

The prevention of slavery requires collaboration between many organisations across government, business, civil society, academia and media and these awards recognise the diverse activities of many who share the mission to abolish modern slavery in Australia and the world today.

Anti-Slavery Australia was honoured to welcome Moe Turaga, Modern Slavery Survivor Advocate, who delivered a powerful keynote at the ceremony. Moe is a leading voice in the antislavery sector. He uses his personal experience to help others; championing the rights and needs of survivors, raising awareness of modern slavery; and advocating for reform to government, business, and the wider society.

We also give a special thanks to MC Pam Stewart, and to the Hon Verity Firth AM and Professor Anita Stuhmcke who presented the 2023 Freedom Awards.

2023 Award Recipients with Professor Jennifer Burn AM and the Hon Verity Firth AM

This year, Freedom Awards were presented in six categories:

Vanessa Zimmerman received the Inaugural Human Rights and Modern Slavery Medal for her outstanding contribution to combating modern slavery in Australia.

Vanessa is a recognised expert in global corporate sustainability. She has become a prominent voice to the corporate and government sectors in the need for direct and effective action to eradicate modern slavery within supply chains. At home and abroad, she is highly respected for her significant contributions to combatting modern slavery.

From being part of the core team drafting the internationally recognised UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to being closely involved in the development of the Modern Slavery Act, Vanessa has had a deep involvement in the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), the UN Global Compact, and the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights. She is also involved with the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery and the Advisory Board to the Australian National Contact Point under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In addition, since 2018 Vanessa has been CEO and founder of Pillar Two, a consultancy firm that helps businesses to implement ethical practices – and in Vanessa’s words, to “demystify what human rights mean for business”. Pillar Two works across policy development and risk management, human rights reporting, modern slavery statements, stakeholder engagement, human rights awareness programs and government engagement.

Moe Turaga  received the Survivor Leadership and Advocacy Award for his outstanding contribution to survivor advocacy to combat modern slavery.

Moe Turaga is a leading voice in the antislavery sector and is dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery. He uses his personal experience to help others, by: championing the rights and needs of survivors; raising awareness of modern slavery; and advocating for reform to government, business, and wider society.

Moe makes efforts to improve Australia’s response to modern slavery at all levels: from supporting and educating vulnerable migrant workers on the ground, to campaigning at the highest levels of Government. In 2022, Moe was the first survivor to formally have a seat at the table and address the Australian Government’s National Roundtable on People Trafficking and Slavery.

A crucial part of Moe’s work has been to pave the way in Australia for survivors’ participation in the policies and decisions that affect them. In doing so, he has set the standard that survivors can, and should, be included and consulted.

Moe’s activities include community outreach, presenting at events and conferences, speaking to government agencies and key decision-makers, engaging and advising businesses, participating in research, and collaborating with and supporting other survivors.

Robyn Parkin received the Impact Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to anti-slavery initiatives in the financial sector.

Robyn Parkin is the Head of Sustainability and Advocacy at Ethical Partners’ Fund Management. In addition to shaping sustainability strategy, she leads the organisation’s advocacy and engagement on modern slavery.

Robyn has led the development of Ethical Partners’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) integration program. As a result, modern slavery risks have been incorporated into approximately $2 billion of Funds Under Management. In addition, she manages over one hundred engagements with Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) companies on modern slavery each year.

Robyn Parkin manages an active program of investor collaborations and wider advocacy with civil society groups, shareholder activists, policymakers, legislators, media, and academics. Robyn and her team have also supported and collaborated with multiple NGOs in their work on modern slavery – including Oxfam, UNICEF and Be Slavery Free.

Robyn and her team have achieved strong results in improving companies’ modern slavery programs. They engage in regular advocacy to the broader financial sector, as well as setting an example through their own transparency policies and their market-leading voluntary modern slavery report. Altogether, these efforts have accelerated the conversation on modern slavery and its root drivers amongst the Australian investment community.

The OAASIS Project  received the Innovation Award for the project’s outstanding contribution to the identification and prevention of modern slavery in global supply chains.

Founded in 2020, the ‘Open Analysis to Address Slavery in Supply Chains’ (OAASIS) Project is dedicated to resolving two knowledge gaps: how to get to know our supply chains; and how to address modern slavery when it is identified. This project is the result of remarkable collaboration, involving contributors across diverse fields of expertise.

The OAASIS objective is to supply a free tool that allows all organisations to easily identify modern slavery risk in their supply chains – and to gain a sophisticated and detailed level of insight, beyond tier two (where the highest modern slavery risks are likely to exist).

It is OAASIS’ ambition that, by significantly reducing the time and money spent on identifying slavery, organisations can then redirect their efforts towards addressing it: through prevention, remediation, and mitigation. By providing the tool freely, the OAASIS intention is that all businesses regardless of size, will be able to more easily identify and mitigate the risk of modern slavery.

The award was received by Dr Joy Murray, Dr Takako Wakiyama, Carolyn Kitto and Dr Thorsten Tepper-Garcia.

Ramila Chanisheff and Rex Patrick received the Campaign Award for their outstanding contribution to the prevention of forced labour in global supply chains.

Ramila Chanisheff is the President of the Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association ( AUTWA), and Rex Patrick is a former independent Senator for South Australia. Together they have campaigned tirelessly for the banning of goods made through slavery in the Xinjiang province of China. They worked together to submit the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced by Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill in 2020 – and in doing so, helped to focus the nation’s attention on modern slavery.

It is estimated that in the Xinjiang province, more than 100,000 Uyghur people are living in forced labour – producing 20% of the world’s cotton.

The Bill aimed to prohibit the importation of goods made in the province. While the Bill was not passed, the Senate Inquiry into the Bill recommended that the Bill be broadened with the effect that all products produced from forced labour globally would be prohibited. The current Government has undertaken to address this issue.

This campaign has raised the bar for action on modern slavery in Australia – by increasing Australians’ awareness of forced labour, and highlighting not only our responsibility to consume ethically, but the responsibility of Government to take decisive action through lawmaking.

Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific received the Collaboration Award in recognition of the project’s outstanding contribution to preventing modern slavery.

The Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific (IAST) initiative is an investor-led, multi-stakeholder project that has the objective of “finding, fixing and preventing modern slavery in operations and supply chains” in the Asia-Pacific region. With over 60% of modern slavery occurring in our region, IAST is working towards long-term and impactful change.

IAST is made up of 37 ethical investors with AU$8.2 trillion in Assets Under Management, together with the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), Walk Free, and the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) initiative.

Established in 2020, IAST has made significant strides in its work with Asia Pacific companies. They directly and consistently engage with 24 focus companies across sectors, who are all at different stages of their modern slavery journeys, encouraging industry leaders to implement new standards of best practice. IAST also engages in investor-advocacy, such as through their investor statement – which outlines the investor interest in impacts of modern slavery, and good practice measures businesses can take.

The Award was received by Kate Turner, Global Head of Responsible Investment at First Sentier Investors, Måns Carlsson OAM, Head of ESG at Ausbil Investment Management Limited and Matthew Coghlan, Senior Financial Manager, Walk Free.


Two Anti-Slavery Australia Awards were also presented at the ceremony.

The Anti-Slavery Australia Awards are a separate category of award, for individuals or organisations who have contributed substantially to anti-slavery initiatives and the work and mission of the Centre.

The AFP Human Trafficking Team received an Anti-Slavery Australia Award for their team’s outstanding commitment to combating modern slavery.

The Australian Federal Police, Human Trafficking Team in Sydney, work tirelessly in combatting modern slavery and human trafficking.

At a time where reports of slavery in Australia are higher than ever, this team of 10 have approximately 80 open matters at any one time.

The team are dedicated to identifying victims and survivors; implementing disruption strategies to stop slavery in its tracks; and holding perpetrators to account through effective investigations and prosecutions. They undertake complex investigations in order to remove survivors from harm, and focus on putting survivors’ welfare first above all other considerations.

The team works in partnership and in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, corporations, foreign and local law enforcement, and multiple government departments.

The trafficking team’s contributions also extend into prevention of modern slavery, through education and awareness raising. This includes working in partnerships to facilitate awareness and support programs, such as engaging with schools to educate young people on their rights.

Cocogun founders Chiquita King and Ant Melder received an Anti-Slavery Australia Award for their outstanding ‘Human Mart’ anti-slavery campaign.

Chiquita King and Ant Melder are founders of creative agency Cocogun. In 2019 they approached Anti-Slavery Australia to propose a collaboration on an awareness raising campaign on modern slavery in Australia. The result of this was Human Mart, an interactive art installation bringing over 60 stories of modern slavery to the Australian public.

Presenting as a supermarket in which nothing is for sale, the goals of Human Mart campaign were to: raise awareness and educate the public on modern slavery, and to convey the dignity and humanity of people who have experienced it. To bring Human Mart to life, Cocogun brought together multiple agencies and businesses to donate their time and talents to this ground-breaking project.

The campaign garnered significant news coverage from national media – and was formally commended by the then Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Jason Wood and Alex Greenwich, the Independent Member for Sydney, in NSW Parliament.

None of this would have been possible without Cocogun, who engineered this creative and original idea, and dedicated their time freely to this project to bring it to life.

Photos: Oscar Colman Portrait Studio