Date: 
Tuesday 13 November 2018

As the Federal Senate debates the Modern Slavery Bill this week, the 2018 Australian Dialogue on Business and Human Rights takes place in Sydney today with modern slavery prevention as the key theme.

It’s the fifth time the Global Compact Network Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission have joined forces to address the ongoing challenges facing business, government, civil society, investors and academia as they strive to prevent and address business involvement in human rights harms at home and abroad.

Recognising the growing expectations for Australian businesses to manage modern slavery risks in their own operations and supply chains, the theme for this year’s Dialogue will be Embedding Human Rights in Global Supply Chains: Modern Slavery and Beyond.

“We are currently facing a modern incarnation of an old problem. According to the United Nations, there are approximately 25 million victims of forced labour exploited in global supply chains. It is time to shake off any complacency about the magnitude of this problem and make the invisible visible,” said Australian Human Rights Commission President, Rosalind Croucher.

“The modern slavery landscape presents a unique space to constructively advance an understanding and ability to respond to modern slavery and broader human rights issues that are connected to business operations,” she said.

“No one actor can solve the challenge of modern slavery, or ensuring businesses do not harm broader human rights. It is vital that business, civil society, government and investors amongst other stakeholders come together to create principled, collaborative options to effect meaningful change,” said Global Compact Network Australia Human Rights Leadership Group Chair, Vanessa Zimmerman.

Ms Zimmerman added that the Dialogue cements relationships amongst key Australian players to continue to drive the agenda forward.

The Assistant Home Affairs Minister, Linda Reynolds, will also contribute to the Dialogue.

“The Commonwealth Government’s Modern Slavery Bill will encourage businesses to take action to address modern slavery risks in their operations and global supply chains. I am encouraged by the commitment and drive from both Australian industry and civil society to combat modern slavery. There is collective momentum driving a robust multi-stakeholder, multi-sector response to this issue,” said Ms Reynolds.

Media contacts:
Australian Human Rights Commission    Sarah Bamford 0417 957 525
Global Compact Network Australia         Kylie Porter 0448 321 527