Reflecting on ACRATH’s past and being part of its future.

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I first became aware of ACRATH about 17 years ago when I was working as a teacher and social justice coordinator in a congregational school in Sydney. Modern slavery was an abstract idea, something belonging to a distant time or place. Alongside my students, I learned how we are often unwittingly supporting the systems and structures that perpetuate the exploitation of millions of people, and about the practical steps we could take to combat modern slavery. Later, I had the privilege to be part of the partnership between ACRATH and St. Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA), as a member of the working group charged with implementing the SVHA Anti-Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Project.

So, it was with great excitement and hope that I attended the 2024 ACRATH Members Gathering at Baulkham Hills, my first such event since becoming a member last year. And I was not disappointed! 

It is no exaggeration to say that I was blown away by the impact and influence that ACRATH continues to have in eliminating human trafficking. I had the privilege to listen to long-serving members share their insights about how to achieve genuine engagement in educational settings, wisdom that has come through sustained effort and a willingness to learn from experience. I witnessed first-hand the deep respect held for the authenticity and impact of ACRATH’s work by people in government, parliament and across the networks of organisations working towards ending modern slavery. I witnessed both implicitly and explicitly the power and value of collaboration, networking, accompaniment and genuine stakeholder engagement to make real change in the world. I saw an agile organisation, ready with open hearts and minds to go where it is called. 

I left the gathering much richer than I arrived, and two things have stayed with me. The first is the breadth of achievement ACRATH has had over the years (the phrase “punches way above its weight” came to mind often). The other is the need to capture the wisdom and experience of ACRATH members to ensure our impact endures. Over the course of the gathering, more than one member mentioned that they were looking forward being able to take a step back soon. Perhaps it is time to focus on developing the next generation of ACRATH members – consolidating ways of working in partnership with young people to form the next generation of modern slavery companions, advocates and educators, fine tuning education programs and extending their reach. I am looking forward to being part of whatever comes next!

Check out the National Gathering video highlights here.

To read the latest Annual Report, click the image below:

Carmel Shaw

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