Three tips to prepare for Australian slavery law

9 July 2018

Buyers should engage with executives and understand their supply chains to tackle slavery.

Jaana Quaintance-James, head of sustainability & ethical sourcing at fashion retailer The Iconic, speaking at the CIPS Australasia Conference in Sydney, gave three tips:

1. Don’t feel like you’re alone. Engage with your executives in a genuine and authentic manner so that they understand the issues.

2. Invest some time in understanding your supply chain and get as many of their contact details as you possibly can and keep yourself informed of your particular industry.

3. Make sure you have a relevant policy and that it’s communicated and incorporated into contracts. Finally, use online tools and the industry to understand the risk in your organisation.

During a panel discussion Jenny Stanger, anti-slavery specialist, said Australia's proposed slavery law was “historic legislation” and an important first step.

Walk Free Foundation chief executive Jenn Morris said the reporting rules were stronger than those in the United Kingdom and the reporting requirement on government departments was a “world first”.

The law was introduced on 28 June 2018 in the Australian parliament and, if passed, around 3,000 businesses in Australia with an annual turnover of $100m or more will need be required to report on efforts to identify modern slavery in their supply chains.

In Australia, there are roughly 4,000 people working in slave-like conditions in industries such as agriculture, fishing, sex work, mining, construction, farming, and cleaning services (including in diplomatic residences).

A CIPS Australasia survey of procurement managers found the vast majority (80%) believed the new law was a step in the right direction.

The survey also revealed 60% supported penalties for businesses that didn’t publish reports, but 20% had not taken any steps to date to ensure their supply chains were slavery free.

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