The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) welcomes the Parliamentary tabling of Professor John MacMillan’s review into the Modern Slavery Act.
The review made 30 recommendations to ensure the Act is meaningfully tackling modern slavery, both at home and abroad.
The most significant recommendation is a duty on reporting entities to implement a due diligence system to identify and assess modern slavery risks and track performance in addressing them.
ACSI called for a due diligence requirement to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act in its submission to the review, arguing that is should be accompanied by a very clear definition and scope, and be reasonable and feasible for specific types of entity given their operations and supply chain.
Compliance without ambition, ACSI’s recent research into the third round of reporting under the Modern Slavery Act, found that while Australian listed companies are reporting their modern slavery risks at a basic level, only a small number of companies disclose more complex actions to manage those risks, including working with suppliers to build risk management capacity, consulting potentially affected groups or defining effectiveness to help track performance.
Just 8% of companies identified a modern slavery incident or allegation, which is unlikely to reflect the true extent of the challenge facing Australian businesses.
In addition to the terrible toll modern slavery takes on the millions of people affected by it, it also presents a serious investment risk, as failure to protect human rights can expose companies to significant reputational and financial risk, impacting long-term sustainability. This is just one reason investors support business in ongoing identification and remediation of instances of modern slavery and disclosing its approach to the market.
A number of Professor MacMillan’s recommendations align with those ACSI called for in its submission to the review.
“The Federal Government has already announced its intention to create a national Anti-Slavery Commissioner, which is a very welcome beginning to strengthening Australia’s response to tackling modern slavery,” said Louise Davidson, ACSI CEO.
“We urge them to consider this review very carefully and look forward to a response which will help listed companies robustly confront modern slavery challenges in their operations and supply chains.”