According to the latest International Labour Organization figures, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour.
Commenting these figures at a roundtable co-organised by amfori and the Australian Mission to the EU in early November 2019, Dr Bradley Armstrong, Australia Border Force Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs highlighted that “Improving the level of transparency in the supply chain is therefore really important and this was the driving force for the Australia modern slavery act.”
Under Australia Modern Slavery Act, entities based or operating in Australia (with an annual consolidated revenue of AUD100 million) are required to provide a statement describing the risks of modern slavery in the operations and supply chains of reporting entities and their efforts to address these risks.
Going a step further than what is being requested from businesses under the UK Modern Slavery Act, the Australian legislation requests that statements submitted to the government are registered on an official website (still under construction) which will be made fully accessible to the public. Interestingly enough, the same requirements also apply to the Australian Federal government which also needs to demonstrate that they walk the talk.
To support businesses in their due diligence journey, the Australian government also recently published a Guidance document for Reporting Entities which explains in plain language what companies need to do to comply.
At EU level, the policy initiatives on human rights due diligence have been focusing on encouraging companies to focus less on short-term profits and consider long-term impacts so as to adopt a more sustainable business approach. A representative from the European Commission at Directorate General of Justice, highlighted that the Commission was currently looking at a smart mix of measures to tackle human rights issue at business level.
amfori in Asia Pacific
amfori insisted on the need to empower companies on the ground through capacity building and training to tackle modern slavery. Over the past two years, amfori conducted 59 training courses focusing specifically on the issue of modern slavery. Continuous improvement through engagement with government and stakeholders is how amfori intends to achieve progress on this matter.
Since July 2019, amfori has broadened its support to Australia and New Zealand with Antonio Pantalone, based in Sydney, serving as our Network Representative for the region.
amfori has taken a pro-active approach of the Australian Modern Slavery Act, engaging with investor organisations, and will continue to support the Australian business community in responding to modern slavery legislation and promote sustainable supply chains.