- A brand new report into company reporting underneath Australia’s Modern Slavery Act has been launched.
- Key sectors lined are horticulture, seafood, clothes and gloves.
- Consumers are being urged to vote with their wallets.
If your garments are made in China, rubber gloves from Malaysia and seafood sourced from Thailand, researchers are warning you could be susceptible to supporting modern slavery practices.
Those have been recognized as the sectors with the highest threat of modern slavery in a brand new report, produced by a coalition of human rights organisations and lecturers.
And regardless of earlier warnings of the dangers to Australian firms sourcing these products, little has modified to enhance the dangers.
Putting a shrimp on the barbie for Christmas? Be warned
With the vacation season approaching and seafood recognized in the report as a high-risk sector, researchers are warning Australian shoppers to tread with warning.
There’s proof that employees in the Thai seafood trade have been held on ships in captivity for years, mentioned considered one of the authors of the into modern slavery.
“Prawns are basically the Australian staple for Christmas Day,” mentioned Martijn Boersma, the Director of the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Program at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
“We see that companies that source seafood from Thailand do very poorly in their reporting on risk factors.
“It does not require a lot Google looking to realise that the Thailand seafood trade has an appalling observe document—we have seen instances of individuals being held on ships in captivity compelled to work for typically years at a time.”
Another high-risk product is cotton coming from China, which is almost all produced in Xinjiang – a region with links to alleged forced labour of the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority.
Around 80 per cent of China’s cotton is produced in Xinjiang, accounting for about 20 per cent of the world’s production.
Those cotton T-shirts you’re buying? Chances are they could be implicated too.
Produce from Australia is another sector at risk of modern slavery practises.
“In Australia, the horticulture sector has lengthy been recognized as a sector with systemic exploitation and abusive working circumstances,17 notably for migrant employees on non permanent visas,” the report reads.
Rubber gloves from Malaysia are another industry: the report says labour exploitation remains widespread in the Malaysian glove manufacturing sector in 2022.
“In response, the US has positioned a number of import bans on Malaysian rubber glove suppliers based mostly on proof of compelled labour,” the report says.
Which Australian companies are at risk?
Some of Australia’s most well-known stores and companies have been named in the report as having a high-risk of being linked to modern slavery practices, and some for not properly reporting their level of risk.
But not all of them were low-ranked. David Jones was one of the best-ranking companies analysed in the horticulture sector of the report.
Scott Fyfe, CEO of David Jones, told SBS News that the company recognises that without diligence on its part, modern slavery had the potential to appear across “all features” of its business.
“We prepare the entire enterprise to perceive the significance of this and on how to spot it so we are able to eradicate all types of slavery from our whole enterprise,” he said.
“All our individuals are custodians of the iconic model and so have a component to play in defending our legacy. It is important we get buy-in throughout the enterprise and allow a tradition the place we are able to establish and act upon any dangers.”
‘Vote with your wallet’: What consumers can do
Another author of the report, Freya Dinshaw, a Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, told SBS News that consumers should “vote with their pockets”.
“Consumers ought to completely interact with firms that are not pulling their weight to actually mitigate and deal with modern slavery dangers,” she said.
Should companies be penalised?
Ms Dinshaw said consumers should support companies “doing the proper factor,” but to properly address the issue, Australia needed government intervention.
The in Australia requires companies to report potential links to modern slavery in their supply chains and how they mitigate those links, but does not ban products with a high risk.
There’s also no punishment for companies who fail to report links to modern slavery.
The report recommends penalising companies that don’t satisfy reporting guidelines, as links to high-risk areas aren’t decreasing under the current system.
One way this could occur would be fining, or disqualifying companies from public tenders, the authors say.
Ms Dinshaw said the government should ensure Australian companies could “by no means revenue from exploitation and abuse” in their supply chains.
She said the report calls on the government to make it compulsory to act on modern slavery links and “not simply report them”, penalise failures in risk mitigation, and to appoint an independent anti-slavery commissioner.
Ramila Chanisheff, President of the Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association, told SBS News that she’s saddened there hasn’t been improvement since a similar report that came out two years ago.
“The authorities has sufficient credible proof on this matter, and never taking motion is proving detrimental to the Uyghurs,” she said.
“Without insurance policies, legal guidelines, and penalties in place these industries appear to proceed to revenue from slave labour.”
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