THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has today released its submission to the Attorney General’s Departmental Review on the Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement.
This follows the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, modern slavery is estimated to affect 45.8 million people across the world. The complex and interconnected nature of many supply chains can cause major headaches for retailers when trying to eliminate unethical practices.
The Inquiry is investigating whether to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement for businesses and organisations with turnover exceeding $100 million annually. Businesses would be required to investigate their supply chains and report on their efforts to stamp out instances of modern slavery.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the ARA had been undertaking comprehensive consultations with major retailers on how best to make both existing and new reporting guidelines meet community expectations.
Mr Zimmerman said many retailers already employed Ethical Sourcing Guidelines and were passionate about eliminating modern slavery from their supply chains.
“A collective approach will make a bigger impact, making it far easier for individual organisations to address instances of modern slavery in their supply chains,” Mr Zimmerman said.
However, Mr Zimmerman cautioned against imposing strict reporting requirements and said that any new regulations should be light-touch and flexible to encourage best practice across the industry.
“We believe a competitive, market-based approach to investigating and stopping modern slavery will produce better results, encouraging a ‘race-to-the-top’ mentality amongst retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“We would also like to see further clarity for retailers and other organisations, including for concession retailers and resellers, as well as the financial impact of the extensive auditing which will be required to satisfy the reporting obligations.”
The ARA has been passionately working on modern slavery in recent months, hosting a series of roundtable discussions with retailers, universities and key stakeholders, alongside working with the Inquiry.
Mr Zimmerman called on the Inquiry to provide support and guidance to help retailers better-understand where modern slavery occurs in their supply chains and how best to address it.
To view the ARA’s submission on Modern Slavery in Supply Chains, click here.
About the Australian Retailers Association:
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.