Following his article on the proposed implementation of the Australian Modern Slavery Act in October 2017, David Lehmann, Director in our Forensic team discusses recent comments made in relation to modern slavery risks in procurement.
In October 2017, we published an article on the proposed implementation of the Australian Modern Slavery Act.
In that article, we highlighted:
- what modern slavery is
- the significance of the issue globally
- the push by Australian business leaders and governments to scrutinise supply chains to eliminate modern slavery
- what the proposed Australian legislation will mean for our corporations
- the actions that Australian corporations can take to mitigate the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains.
Let's learn from the UK experience
In a recent article published in the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) 'Supply Management' newsletter, titled 'Government should 'show leadership' on public sector supply chain slavery', Mr Andy Davies, Director of the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) was reported as saying that '...government needed to show leadership when it came to making sure buyers in education, health, local government and other areas of the public sector had the skills to manage and mitigate the risk of human rights abuses and modern slavery in their supply chains.' 1
It is quite clear from this article that whilst the UK Government has been very proactive in implementing legislation to better deal with the issue of modern slavery, the level of guidance and training about how organisations can work with suppliers on this issue is lacking.
To fill this void, the LUPC recently published its own toolkit, which is designed to help public procurement practitioners protect human rights in their own supply chains. The toolkit includes e-learning modules that are freely available on the LUPC website, one of which includes guidance on compiling a modern slavery statement.
Another interesting point raised by Mr Davies was his call for the central government and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to be more '...transparent over their due diligence processes and provide more information on what they are doing to identify and address modern slavery risk.' There was also a call for the central government and CCS to collaborate with more organisations.
The UK experience provides the Australian government with the opportunity to learn valuable lessons which will assist in alleviating the uncertainty about the requirements of the proposed Australian Modern Slavery legislation. By collaborating with corporations and civil service organisations such as International Justice Mission Australia (IJM), the government will be able to provide guidance about:
- The actions corporations are expected to take to produce greater transparency in their supply chains. (Some of these actions are mentioned in our October article.)
- How and what actions should be taken to investigate modern slavery when it is identified
- The requirements for policy and procedural development and reporting, e.g. what a modern slavery statement should contain, and the level of detail required for annual reporting by corporations that are subject to the new legislation.
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