Iona students examine their modern slavery footprint

03 Dec 2020

By Contributor

Tanna Finch, Jacqui Moore, Jordan McGeough, and Amelia Bradshaw-Pini from Iona Presentation College.
Tanna Finch, Jacqui Moore, Jordan McGeough, and Amelia Bradshaw-Pini are a part of the ‘Young Pressies’ group of Year 7 to 12 students, who connect to build awareness, understanding and empathy of social justice. Photo: Supplied.

A cohort of Iona Presentation College students – dubbed the ‘Young Pressies’ – have recently focussed their attention on the issue of modern slavery with a focus on human trafficking and ethical supply chains.

The Young Pressies are a co-curricular service group of Year 7 to 12 students who connect to build awareness, understanding and empathy of social justice. They critically examine issues affecting women and children, Aboriginal people and the environment, and work together to put their faith into action as ‘can-do’ Presentation women.

After taking a survey ( to examine their current lives, the students were shocked to discover that their slavery footprint involved 68 slaves working (indirectly) for them.

This discovery initiated a six-week journey, during which the students became more knowledgeable about modern slavery and developed some plausible actions to be taken within the school community.

Two workshops, organised by the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) was a great opportunity for the students to share anecdotal stories of people being trafficked in Australia and abroad, introduced them to the contents of the Modern Slavery Act (2018) and provided them with an insight into the role of ACRATH.

These workshops inspired an engaging collaborative discussion, which led to the students deciding on a path of action.

Some of the initiatives that have already taken place include:

  • The students sold blue ribbons at the college for a gold coin donation. Blue was chosen as it is the recognised colour for working towards ending human trafficking;
  • They conducted a fair-trade bake sale and sold the produce to their peers. Whilst many found it difficult to purchase items that were entirely fair trade, some of the girls were quite creative. Example: buying fair trade chocolate and dipping them in fresh WA grown strawberries;
  • The group worked with Iona’s Broadcasting Club, creating a brief video to highlight their efforts in fighting human trafficking; and,
  • One of Iona’s Year 11 students who was inspired by what she had learned, elected to write her English Composition on the topic of Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking.

The students have to date raised $500 for ACRATH, and importantly have raised awareness of modern slavery and how it continues to be a part of modern-day life.

Year 11 student Ella Sparkman-Brown explained that it was almost a phenomenon that when most people think of slavery, they think of African Americans in cotton fields or perhaps slaves in Egypt building pyramids.

“Maybe you think of texts you’ve read like To Kill a Mockingbird, or movies you’ve seen like The Help, with African American houseslaves – yes, these events can be classified as acts of slavery,” she expressed.

“However, there is one characteristic of your imagination like all these circumstances of slavery – they happened many, many years ago. As if slavery is purely a thing of the past.

“However, in the time it took for you to read this paragraph and think about what slavery is, a slave made 20 versions of that pen you’re holding, or maybe the socks you’re wearing, that dinner you had at a restaurant last week, or maybe some part of the supply chain of ingredients in your dinner last night.” Ella concluded.