Ex senator Lisa Singh joins Twiggy Forrest’s anti-modern slavery organisation

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday August 11, 2020

Lisa Singh (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Former Tasmanian senator Lisa Singh has been appointed head of government advocacy in the Australia-Pacific region at the Walk Free Foundation.

The anti-modern slavery organisation is an initiative from the Minderoo Foundation, founded by billionaire Fortescue Metals chair Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

The organisation on Friday said Singh’s role would involve pushing for tougher modern slavery legislation and driving the organisation’s advocacy with governments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lisa Singh

Singh was first elected to the Australian Senate in 2010, and has served as shadow parliamentary secretary to the shadow attorney-general, and for the environment, climate change and water.

She lost her seat in the May 2019 election after being placed fourth on Labor’s Senate ticket, as a result of factional deals. While Singh was part of Labor left nationally, she was not aligned with the left or right faction of the Tasmanian Labor party.

Singh said she was proud to join the organisation at “such a critical time”.

“Walk Free is an international human rights organisation leading the world in the fight to end modern slavery. It’s a privilege to be part of such a committed team, driven to end modern slavery in our lifetime,” she said.

“Real progress on modern slavery can only be achieved if governments, businesses and civil society work together to achieve systemic change. I want to be part of that change.”


Read more: Forced labour, sexual exploitation and forced marriage: modern slavery in Australia hides in plain sight


During her political career, Singh served as deputy-chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Law Enforcement — which reported on human trafficking — and was a key member of the parliamentary committee that recommended a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, with the act passed in 2018.

She was the first person of Indian origin elected to the Australian parliament, and has worked with governments, NGOs, and vulnerable groups globally, including sex trafficking survivors in India, and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Grace Forrest, Walk Free’s co-founder and director — and daughter of Twiggy Forrest — welcomed the appointment.

“Lisa has a long history working in the human rights space and shares our passion for ending injustice. Lisa has advocated for an end to human trafficking and slavery for many years and we are delighted she has joined the Walk Free team,” she said.

“As the world reels from COVID-19, it is more important than ever for governments to take strong action to protect their people against exploitation. There is no question the effects of the pandemic have been devastating, but tens of millions of people living in conditions of modern slavery is also a global crisis.”

Walk Free was founded by the Forrests in 2012, and publishes the Global Slavery Index — a country-by-country ranking of the number of people in modern slavery.

Earlier this year Nicola Forrest was appointed to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission’s Charity, Philanthropy and Fundraising Advisory Group. Meanwhile, former Fortescue boss Nev Power heads the NCCC.

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