News, Business & Human Rights

SUBMISSION | UNGCNA advocates for alignment with international standards in Australia’s modern slavery disclosure regime

Chris Caskey | December 22, 2022

In late 2022, UN Global Compact Network Australia (‘UNGCNA’) filed its response to the consultation on the ‘Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018’ (the ‘Act’). In its submission, UNGCNA advocated for amendments to the Act that:

  • have the potential to result in meaningful outcomes towards ending slavery;
  • increase the effectiveness of modern slavery reporting; and
  • encourage and empower businesses to implement meaningful modern slavery and broader human rights risk management.

UNGCNA encouraged the Australian Government to expand its modern slavery reporting regime to align more closely with international standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). We submitted that at this stage in the regime, the transparency framework established by the Modern Slavery Act 2018 should be reframed to encourage Australian businesses to establish processes that not only meet international standards but enable them to readily compete in markets with emerging due diligence requirements. The regime should also be designed to encourage companies to establish comprehensive and robust human rights due diligence frameworks that place rightsholders and effective remediation at the centre.

UNGCNA is of the view that ultimately, mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence will become a universal norm. We encouraged the Australian Government to continue to consult on the development of a regulatory framework that incentivises, encourages and ultimately mandates human rights and environmental due diligence.

As a leading voice and platform for learning and action, UNGCNA has a strong reputation within Australia on supporting business to tackle modern slavery and broader human rights impacts. Since 2021, the UNGCNA has been working to deliver the Modern Slavery Impact Initiative (‘MSII’) with the support of grant funding by the Attorney General’s Department (previously Australian Border Force). The MSII establishes a collaborative and multi-stakeholder forum to support business in identifying and responding to modern slavery, enable greater alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘UNGPs’).

In 2022, UNGCNA was pleased to partner with the Attorney-General’s Department in the facilitation of consultations with Australian businesses on the review of the Modern Slavery Act in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Throughout September and October 2022, the UNGCNA connected over 115 business representatives with Professor John McMillan AO and the Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit at the Attorney-General’s Department in-person, and hundreds more virtually through our Modern Slavery Community of Practice (‘MSCoP’).

Read our full submission here.

Alternative Text

article by

Chris Caskey

Chris is a human rights professional with experience in human rights law, business and human rights, modern slavery, and regulatory risk advisory. At the UNGCNA, Chris co-leads our Human Rights workstream, manages the delivery of our Modern Slavery Impact Initiative and leads the UNGCNA engagement with the Dhawura Ngilan Business & Investor Initiative.