Australia’s modern slavery law not working, report says | Economy

A coalition of rights groups and academics are calling on the government to strengthen anti-slavery legislation.

Australian businesses are still failing to address clear risks of forced labor in their supply chains nearly four years after landmark modern slavery laws were introduced, an investigation by labor rights groups has found. human rights.

Two in three companies are still failing to meet legal reporting requirements, while more than half have failed to deliver on pledges to improve their anti-slavery efforts, a coalition of labor advocacy groups has said. rights and academics in a report released Thursday. .

The group, which includes the Australian Institute for Human Rights and the UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, said the Australian government should revise its anti-slavery legislation to ensure companies do not use forced labor in their supply chains.

He recommended that the law be strengthened to require companies to undertake due diligence on their supply chains, introduce penalties for non-compliance and establish an independent anti-slavery commissioner.

The report, Broken Promises: Two years of corporate reporting under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, is based on corporate reporting submitted to the government by 92 companies that source from industries considered to be at risk of modern slavery. Industries at risk are garments in China, rubber gloves in Malaysia, seafood in Thailand and fresh produce in Australia.

Under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, introduced in 2018, large companies are required to publish annual statements on their efforts to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

The legislation has been criticized as weak by some unions and activists because it only covers companies with annual sales over $100 million and does not include financial penalties.

Justine Nolan, director of the Australian Institute for Human Rights at the University of New South Wales, said Australian businesses should move from responding “on paper” to taking “effective action” against the modern slavery.

“Too many companies still fail to identify obvious risks or simply make vague promises that aren’t delivered,” Nolan said.

“While the Modern Slavery Act has made businesses more aware of the risks of modern slavery, this has yet to translate into effective practices to address and eliminate it.

“This report reveals the urgent need to strengthen the law to require action, not just reporting, and to equip and resource a regulator to provide greater oversight and enforcement.”

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