Victims of modern slavery in Australia will be settled into a stable home and helped to get back on their feet, thanks to a new charity housing program.

The Salvation Army on Thursday launched an Australian-first initiative that will deliver transitional housing for modern slavery survivors and transition them into independent living.

Seed funding for the program will be provided by The Sisters of Charity Foundation, which will also provide brokerage to help people set up a home.

The Global Slavery Index estimated that on any given day in 2016, about 15,000 people were living in slavery-like conditions in Australia. This includes overworked migrant workers being paid minimal wages, children being forced to marry, or underpaid fruit-pickers on rural farms.

Salvos Housing will work with survivors to find suitable, affordable housing, as well offering case management and support to help people manage their tenancy.

The lease will eventually be transferred to the person so they can live independently.

Sisters of Charity Foundation CEO Reba Meagher said the model helped vulnerable people – who often had no previous rental or employment history – overcome the barrier of entering the rental market.

“This approach also eliminates the need for the client to move again when they exit the program,” Meagher says.

“Rather, from the very beginning of their entry to the program, clients are setting up their own home and life with targeted support.”

Meagher told Pro Bono News there was a real service gap for modern slavery victims in Australia, with little support available beyond crisis housing.

While the program is initially only targeting a small number of families in New South Wales, Meagher said the charities intended to show how effective this approach could be Australia-wide.

“The beauty of this model is it has immediate scalability, because none of the organisations have to buy property or hold head leases in their own name for an extended period of time,” she said.

“So once the funding becomes available, we can scale these programs to meet the need in any state or territory in Australia.”

Australia passed its first federal Modern Slavery Act at the end of 2018, requiring businesses with turnovers of more than $100 million to report action they’ve taken to stamp out slavery in their supply chains.

Author: Luke Michael. Originally published by Pro Bono News 21 February 2020. Main image: by Tom Rumble/Unsplash.

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