Modern slavery: our commitment to respecting human rights

Slavery still exists – here's how we're fighting it

In light of the University releasing its 2022 Modern Slavery Statement, Josh Glass reflects on his experience helping address modern slavery as both a current student and Research Assistant in the University's dedicated human rights team, the Modern Slavery Unit. 

Picture of Josh Glass in a white button up and maroon tie

Josh Glass, student and Research Assistant in the Modern Slavery Unit.

Josh's experience

I came to the University of Sydney as an undergraduate Law and Arts student in early 2018. At the time, I had no awareness or interest in the global challenge of modern slavery. However since joining the University, I’ve become a keen activist for fighting against modern slavery – helping generate awareness among other students and help the University provide effective support for students at risk of exploitation.

It's said that modern slavery is hidden in plain sight. But, what no one tells you is that once you become aware of it you can't unsee it. Here are some facts that shocked me when I first learned them, and continue to shock me now: 

These figures are disheartening to say the least. However, what has been encouraging is seeing the University make a genuine commitment and investment to fight modern slavery, especially as it relates to students. 

My current role as a Research Assistant in the University’s Modern Slavery Unit has given me a front row seat to seeing this commitment in action, including:

  • Becoming the first University in the world to offer a dedicated Anti-Slavery Awareness module to educate students about modern slavery risks and support services. The module has now been completed by over 8600 students.
  • Providing resources and information online via the Modern Slavery webpage, as well as to hundreds of students in-person at Welcome Fest, since 2020. 
  • Making submissions to the Australian government to include student-specific risks of modern slavery in Australia’s modern slavery laws, ensuring students are better protected from exploitation. 
  • Training our teams, including counselling, disability and health and wellbeing services, along with our Safer Communities Office and Student Centre, to identify modern slavery indicators and refer students to support services.
  • Strengthening our due diligence practice to ensure the safety of students on overseas placements and students engaged through international student recruitment agents.
A photograph of the 'Human Mart' stall on Eastern Avenue, featuring a desk in front of the stall with empty products. Josh is standing behind the desk with wearing an apron and face mask.

Josh raising awareness about real life stories of modern slavery at the Human Mart stall on Eastern Avenue.

While these actions are important there is far more work to be done, especially as the risk to students experiencing exploitation becomes more prevalent due to cost-of-living pressures. These risks are especially heightened for international students, students from non-English speaking backgrounds and students with disabilities, all of whom may experience challenges in knowing their rights and accessing help. [1]
As my student journey comes to an end at the University, I’m grateful for my unique position as both a student and staff member. It has allowed me to bring a student’s perspective to the University’s efforts and ensure the wellbeing and human rights of students, both on and off campus, are recognised and supported.

Although there is a long way to go, I am convinced that slavery can become a thing of the past, if we all do our part to recognise its warning signs and speak up when we see them. Until then, I'm proud to be part of the continuing fight against slavery. 

Modern slavery resources and support

Your everyday actions can make a positive contribution to the fight against modern slavery. Here are some simple actions you can take today: 

If you or someone you know is experiencing modern slavery, we're here to help and support you.

You can report a suspected incident of modern slavery via the Modern Slavery Incident Reporting Form or contact the Modern Slavery Unit at

If you feel unsafe or are concerned for someone else's safety, you can: 

  • Contact Protective Services via phone on (02) 9351 3333, 24 hours a day. 
  • Contact Student Wellbeing via phone on (02) 8627 8433 or email at The Student Wellbeing team can support you if you are experiencing workplace exploitation (including modern slavery), sexual misconduct, domestic and family violence, or bullying and harrassment. 
  • Contact 1800 SYD HLP (1800 793 457) (option 2, then option 1) via phone, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. This is a confidential service which can assist you in reporting and resolving misconduct and connect you with other University support services. 
  • Contact after-hours mental wellbeing support via phone on 1300 474 065 or (+61) 488 884 429. This service provides free and confidential access to wellbeing support. 
  • Contact your student representative association. If you're an undergraduate student, contact the Student Representative Council (SRC) via phone at (02) 9660 5222, from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. If you're a postgraduate student, you can contact the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) via phone on (02) 9351 3715 from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. 
24 July 2023

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