Inquiry into an Australian Modern Slavery Act
22 May 2017
In February 2017, the Australian Government asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to hold an inquiry into and report on the possibility of establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. The Committee invited submissions from overseas organisations in response to its prepared Terms of Reference.
IHRB fully supports the establishment of an Australian Modern Slavery Act and hopes that it will play a significant part in preventing forced labour and trafficking within Australia and abroad. In particular, it will help to protect vulnerable workers, particularly women and migrant workers, along with those who may face discrimination due to ethnicity or caste. As well as protecting workers, the Act would also assist law abiding businesses and reward companies who seek to ensure and promote responsible practices.
This IHRB submission outlines our recommendations for such a legislative measure, which include:
- Clearly aligning with international standards on business and human rights, namely, the UN Guiding Principles
- Ensuring a broad threshold for companies covered, with reference to the UK Modern Slavery Act
- Including coverage of Government supply chains
- Ensuring content within company statements includes the issues of:
- responsible recruitment
- access to effective remedy
- risks arising from any type of business relationship, not limited to supply chains alone
- Appointing an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner
- Requiring company statements to be posted prominently to company websites
- Creating a central list of companies covered as well as repository of company statements
- Ensuring adequate focus on enforcement