World-first platform developed to help businesses combat modern slavery

World-first platform developed to help businesses combat modern slavery

Researchers at La Trobe University have created an online platform designed to assist large Australian companies tackle the issue of modern slavery.

In Australia businesses with a consolidated revenue of more than $100 million are required to submit a statement to the Australian Government every year detailing the policy, due diligence and remedial actions to address modern slavery.

The Modern Slavery Initiative, developed by Baker McKenzie special counsel and La Trobe University law lecturer Sunil Rao, was created to assist businesses to meet these obligations imposed by The Modern Slavery Act 2018.

Rao hopes the platform will help the estimated 16 million people that are currently being exploited in the private economy.

He says the industries most likely to have modern slavery within their supply chain are construction, manufacturing, agriculture, fishing and domestic work.

"Profits from modern slavery are estimated at more than US$50 billion, and the problem overwhelmingly impacts developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region," says Rao.

"Although responsible governments are starting to make businesses accountable for eliminating modern slavery from their operations and supply chains, there is still a long way to go."

"Australian consumers expect their goods and services to be slavery-free, but we know many products available here are produced by slave labour. Some large businesses do not even realise their supply chains are tarnished by exploitation."

Read more: Outland Denim is helping end modern slavery one thread at a time

The world-first platform will likely assist companies when they submit their first statement at the end of 2020.

Rao says many business are still grappling with understanding the requirements and obligations of the legislation and hopes The Modern Slavery Initiative will be able to lend a hand.

"The Modern Slavery Initiative has designed a Modern Slavery Policy, Remedy and Statement Compliance Check, to enable businesses to assess their level of alignment with international human rights standards and current best practice for addressing and reporting on modern slavery," says Rao.

"The technology identifies gaps and provides recommendations to ensure international best practice and human rights standards are implemented."

Though the technology has been developed in Australia for Australian businesses, Rao says because similar pieces anti-slavery legislation have been passed in the United Kingdom and California the platform has the potential to be used worldwide.

"The tool is applicable across the world. It will work for any business working to eliminate exploitation," says Rao.

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