Report: One in five Australian businesses still not prioritising modern slavery obligations

Report: One in five Australian businesses still not prioritising modern slavery obligations

New research from the University of South Australia shows one in five large Australian businesses will likely fail to comply with their legal obligations under the Modern Slavery Act (2018) when the new year swings around.

The research, released today and complied by UniSA’s Dr Katherine Christ and ANU’s Professor Roger Burritt, unveiled how many businesses are struggling to understand how they should tackle modern slavery, with confusion, a lack of knowledge and disinterest marring any significant progress.

This is despite the Modern Slavery Act stipulating that businesses operating in Australia with revenue of more than $100 million must submit a modern slavery statement by the end of the year on the actions they’ve taken to address risks in their operations and supply chains.

Currently, more than 40 million people are working in conditions of modern slavery around the world.

Around 25 million are trapped in corporate supply chains, 16 million in private sector forced labour, and 4 million in state-imposed forced labour. The remaining 15 million are locked into forced marriage.

Of all modern slavery victims, women and girls account for 71 per cent of the total, and one in four are children.

UniSA’s Dr Christ says while some companies are progressing well in the space, others are lagging behind.

“Governments, including Australia, have enacted legislation to combat modern slavery in supply chains, but without knowing if the actions they’re taking to tackle the problem are effective it’s unlikely that progress will be made to end this modern scourge,” says Dr Christ.

“Some companies are proactively addressing modern slavery and taking a ‘beyond compliance’ approach, yet it’s clear that the majority are either confused, unsure or uninterested in assessing whether their actions to identify and eliminate modern slavery are actually effective.

“One in five entities ignored their modern slavery obligations to assess their effectiveness completely, despite it being an explicit requirement of the Modern Slavery Act. Without addressing the effectiveness of businesses approaches to combatting modern slavery, global efforts to stop this terrible practice are unlikely to be successful.”

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