Today, over thirty representatives from Australian businesses have come together for the Global Compact Network Australia’s (GCNA) fourth Modern Slavery Community of Practice meeting on the 70th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Representatives from a range of sectors including banking, extractives, retail, hospitality, construction and utilities and across numerous business functions such as sustainability, risk, procurement, legal and communities met with the GCNA to better understand the new Commonwealth and NSW Modern Slavery reporting legislation, and to discuss how they are addressing modern slavery challenges in practice. With modern slavery being amongst the most severe human rights risks that companies can face, the GCNA’s Modern Slavery Community of Practice provides Australian GCNA members with the ability learn from each other and drive better practice in modern slavery, including broader human rights risks that may lay the foundations for modern slavery.
As the Community of Practice is a channel for consultation on the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act’s mandatory reporting requirement, today’s session included consultation with the Department of Home Affairs on the next steps for the Modern Slavery Act. Discussions included an update on the seven criteria that businesses will need to report against as well as what guidance business wants to see from the Government to best implement the Act. Businesses also heard from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet on their draft regulations and guidance for businesses who will need to report under the NSW Act.
“Holding today’s Modern Slavery Community of Practice on the 70th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights demonstrates the important role that businesses play in respecting and promoting human rights. Members of the Global Compact Network Australia are signatories to the world’s largest business-led sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact, which includes a commitment to incorporate the principles on human rights and labour rights into their strategies, policies and procedures,” said Kylie Porter, Executive Director of the Global Compact Network Australia.
Vanessa Zimmerman, Chair of Human Rights and the Modern Slavery Community of Practice for the Global Compact Network Australia, emphasised this, saying, “The Global Compact Network Australia’s Community of Practice provides a platform for businesses to better understand and act on the risk of involvement in modern slavery across their own business and supply chains. Today, on Human Rights Day, we were able to highlight how imperative it is that this work does not occur in a vacuum. We know that modern slavery rarely occurs without other human rights impacts, and that the “how to” is already laid out in broader business and human rights standards like the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.”
The Global Compact Network Australia looks forward to continuing to work with our members, government and civil society to ensure that we all speak a common language and are taking an integrated approach to modern slavery and human rights.
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Global Compact Network Australia