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Global Compact Network Australia ramps up modern slavery work with new impact initiative

Kylie Porter | August 17, 2021

Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) is humbled to have been awarded funding as part of the Australian Government’s National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25 Grant. We are one of seven organisations to be awarded funding from the $1.67 million in total in available grants.

With the funding, GCNA will develop the Modern Slavery Impact Initiative (MSII). A multistakeholder, Australia-wide initiative, the MSII will incorporate a series of collaborations and resources to enable a collective response to tackling modern slavery in business operations and supply chains.

The MSII will support the Government to meet Strategic Priority One (Prevent) and Strategic Priority Four (Partner) of the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25 (NAP). It will provide a forum that supports business to lead a collaborative and multistakeholder response to modern slavery.

GCNA Executive Director, Kylie Porter, said “We thank the Government for selecting GCNA as one of their partners to deliver against the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery. We value the ongoing support of the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Jason Wood MP. We also acknowledge Australian Border Force’s Business Engagement Unit for their ongoing commitment to combatting modern slavery in Australian business, including their grant funding for the development of GCNA’s publications on Effective Operational-Level Grievance Mechanisms for Business in 2021.  This new tranche of support will allow GCNA to continue to develop its engagement with the business sector, as well as other stakeholders, including civil society, government and academia.”

Building on GCNA’s work on effective grievance mechanisms, the MSII will enable businesses to advance the sophistication of their response to modern slavery to align with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and other key international standards as well as legislative developments at home and overseas.

The MSII will also connect key stakeholders including business, civil society, worker organisations, government and academia in a leading and trusted forum to build partnerships to prevent and combat modern slavery in Australia and within global supply chains.

GCNA Board Director and Chair of Business and Human Rights and the Modern Slavery Community of Practice, Vanessa Zimmerman explained, “During 2020, we saw first-hand the impact significant border closures and demands on supply chains can have on exacerbating the vulnerabilities that can lay the foundation for modern slavery. Now more than ever we need to equip businesses to really understand how to identify their potential involvement in modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and how to address its root causes. The MSII will not only build business’ knowledge but provide an engagement forum to explore partnerships with external stakeholders working directly with workers and other stakeholders who may be most at risk.”

GCNA Executive Director Porter continues, “Through the MSII, we will continue to bring together Australian businesses from a range of sectors including fast moving consumer goods, retail and supermarkets, extractives, transport, property and engineering services, financial institutions, telecommunications, and healthcare.”

“Participants in the MSII will collaborate to improve their supply chain due diligence, develop mitigating actions to overcome challenges, share learnings and improve reporting under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth). The MSII will also provide an opportunity for businesses to hear from experts across a range of sectors including Government, civil society, worker / union organisations and academic institutions.”

The GCNA will develop a publicly available microsite to give the MSII a digital presence. The microsite will provide a central portal for all stakeholders to access relevant and reliable GCNA resources  to assist with understanding and combatting modern slavery in Australia and global supply chains.

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Kylie Porter

Kylie is a sustainability expert with over 18 years of experience in corporate affairs, sustainability and strategy roles across a broad range of industries. During her career, Kylie has helped numerous companies develop and implement responsible business strategies, managed reputation risk for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and wrote and managed policies across various thematic areas including climate change and human rights.