WA project could be a game changer

WA Project

National Volunteer Week was celebrated in May 2023. Rosa Ranieri is one of the many amazing and generous ACRATH volunteers who together contributed 7355 hours to ACRATH last year. We can’t thank you enough Rosa for all you do for the victims/survivors of human trafficking.

Rosa Ranieri, from ACRATH in WA, is involved in a Modern Slavery Project being piloted across three parishes in the Archdiocese of Perth. Rosa, who has developed a deep understanding of human trafficking after many years with ACRATH, believes the model has the capacity to make a real difference to people’s understanding of supply chains and forced labour.

The Parish Modern Slavery Project is a parish-based initiative of the West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (WACMRO). As the volunteer Modern Slavery Project worker at St Benedict’s Parish in Applecross in Perth, Rosa, is leading the pilot in her parish. The main purpose is education for change and linking human trafficking and Catholic Social teaching.

WACMRO has developed resources to guide participating parishes. The pilot involves running two faith formation events, a morning tea, auditing products used in the parish and then, after consultation, replacing products that could be tainted by slavery or exploited labour. St Benedict’s is starting with food and drinks.

Rosa, a coordinator of ACRATH’s WA group, recently ran a morning tea at the parish, to showcase the vast selection of products that are certified slavery-free. Parishioners were invited to identify items in their own kitchens and consider replacing them one at a time with slavery-free certified products.

“One of the interesting responses from people was their satisfaction with the taste of slavery-free drinks and food. They seemed surprised. But we know that slavery-free certified goods are delicious,” Rosa said.

“Importantly, there was also a sense from people that this change was manageable even if they were gluten free or lactose free because there are now so many options.”

When ACRATH began promoting slavery-free beverages and chocolate in 2008, there was almost nothing available. “The growing range of slavery-free products is great,” says ACRATH EO Christine Carolan. “It means consumers have more choice and activists in groups like ACRATH can see the fruits of their long-term advocacy.”

The team at Applecross has already done an audit of all food and drink products purchased at the parish. This list will be assessed for any risk of modern slavery.  The findings will be presented to the parish and then, hopefully, changes will be made to purchasing. And parishioners can be invited to contact the companies that need to lift their game. The parish is already using Fairtrade coffee and tea products.

Rosa said many people who attended the morning tea and first formation session were very keen to progress from food and drinks to clothing. There was also a lot of interest in services and how people were exploited in the workforce. WACMRO Director Deacon Greg Lowe and Rosa will present a second formation session on July 18.

“If it is done well, this model has the capacity to bring about real change. At the morning tea we showed the Baptist World Aid ethical clothing guide. One of our older parishioners has the APP on her phone so we know that the commitment to change is across all our age groups, young and old,” Rosa said.

Other parishes are invited to sign up to join the project through WACMRO.