• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Friday, 11 May 2018 08:42

Govt to introduce Australian Modern Slavery Act

Rate this item
(0 votes)

 

0517Slavery 150The Federal Government has announced it will harness the power of big business to help combat modern slavery, through the establishment of a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, in a move in a move that has been welcomed by Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) who have worked tirelessly to combat slavery and human trafficking.

The reporting requirement, which will be enacted through a new Australian Modern Slavery Act, will require more than 3,000 large corporations and other entities to publish annual public statements on their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

Australian Catholic Religous Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), together with other non-government organisations, has been advocating strongly for Government action on the supply chain issue.

Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Alex Hawke, said the Government will introduce legislation to Parliament by mid-2018 to establish the Modern Slavery Act, sending a clear message that modern slavery will not be tolerated in the community or in the supply chains of our goods and services.

“Modern slavery thrives in the shadows of global supply chains and involves serious crimes and human rights abuses,” Assistant Minister Hawke said.

“It is a significant risk for Australian businesses as it undermines their competitiveness and can have substantial legal and reputational costs for businesses that fail to protect their supply chains.

“By introducing a mandatory reporting requirement for big business, we will reduce modern slavery risks in our goods and services supply chain by ensuring businesses are held to account.”

In a world first, the Turnbull Government will also publish an annual statement covering Commonwealth procurement. This underlines the Government’s commitment to leading by example in the fight against modern slavery.

To ensure the reporting requirement is implemented effectively, the Government has committed $3.6 million through the Federal Budget to establish a new Anti-Slavery Business Engagement Unit in the Department of Home Affairs.

The unit will provide expert support and advice to business on modern slavery risks and manage a central repository of all Modern Slavery Statements.

The Department of Home Affairs will also award $500,000 in funding over 2018-19 to support specialist civil society organisations working to prevent and address modern slavery.

This funding will build on more than $5 million in funding awarded to anti-slavery non-government organisations since 2008.

Mr Hawke highlighted the importance of collaborating with civil society organisations (such as ACRATH) to combat modern slavery.

“Our tireless civil society partners play a crucial role in identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery, and raising community awareness of these issues. This funding will support this important work over the coming year.”

ACRATH President Sr Noelene Simmons sm said ACRATH has been part of the process in working towards the introduction of such an Act, putting in a joint submission with other NGOs to the parliamentary enquiry which looked into the issue last year.

"This is something we've been advocating fror, so we are very happy about the announcement," she said.

She said the Government's focus on requiring businesses to comply with anti-slavery supply chain requirements was only one aspect of the slavery and human trafficking issue but was a welcome development.

"Up to now, NGOs like us have been going around business by business to seek their cooperation, particularly to chocolate companies. So now, all businesses will be asked to do this reporting and that's certainly something we're very happy with," she said.

"And we're delighted to see that a special unit will be set up to assist businesses in their reporting, so they're not left to do it all by themselves."

Sr Noelene also welcomed the Government's announcement of extra funding for NGOs working to combat slavery and human trafficking.

A factsheet on the Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement is available at https://homeaffairs.gov.au/consultations/Documents/modern-slavery/modern-slavery-reporting-requirement.pdf.

PHOTO: Pixabay.