Learning Lab Submission to the Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

In April 2017 the Learning Lab made a submission to the Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. The submission was written by Olga Martin-Ortega, Claire Methven O’Brien, and Andy Davies on behalf of the Learning Lab, and was recently accepted and made publicly available.

The submission recommends that an Australian Modern Slavery Act should include a ‘Transparency in Supply Chains’ provision that is modeled on and improves upon Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act, and that such a provision should apply not only to corporations, but also to public bodies. In particular, the submission recommends that such a provision should:

  1. Contain prescriptive transparency requirements, rather than suggestions;
  2. Make it compulsory for all public bodies over a threshold size to publish an annual statement reporting on their efforts to identify, prevent and mitigate risks of modern slavery in their supply chains;
  3. Not be restricted to modern slavery and human trafficking, but rather encompass the wide range of human rights abuses which occur in global supply chains; and
  4. Include mandatory exclusions through which public buyers can exclude suppliers who fail to uphold their human rights in the supply chain obligations from tendering processes.

The submission also includes concrete recommendations on how the government should support public sector buyers in complying with obligations to publish an annual statement, including developing practical guidance; supporting relevant knowledge and capacity development; and creating a working group on public procurement, modern slavery, human trafficking, and human rights in supply chains composed of various stakeholders, including public purchasers.

The Learning Lab submission can be downloaded here.