Australia to stamp out supply chain slavery

15 March 2013
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15 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds

The Australian government is improving its procurement practices to help eliminate slavery across supply chains in Australia and overseas.

As part of the new government strategy, the Department of Finance and Deregulation will ensure public procurement rules identify slavery as an important issue when considering the ethical behaviour of suppliers.

The department will also issue revised procurement guidance to reinforce the need for specific actions to be taken to eliminate the chances of slave labour being used in supply chains. Training in legal and policy requirements will be provided for procurement officers, including how to report of breaches of policy.

The initiative follows work done over the past nine years, in which the government has invested more than AUS$150 million (£103 million) in anti-trafficking measures.

Prior to the announcement by prime minister Julia Gillard last week, governor-general Quentin Bryce signed into law the Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Act. This legislation creates new offences of forced marriage and harbouring a victim, and standalone offences of forced labour and organ trafficking.

Gillard said: “Over the past decade, more than 20 million people around the world have been the subject of forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. This year, as part of Australia’s membership of the United Nations Security Council and as we move to host the G20 in 2014, Australia will continue to pursue global action to combat slavery and people-trafficking.”

She urged local governments, businesses and organisations to get involved.

In December, the government announced funding of AUS$50 million (£34 million) to continue the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons programme that trains police officers, prosecutors and judges to combat people-trafficking in Australia. The government gives all the money taken from criminals convicted of trafficking and slavery, to NGOs.

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