ARA calls on retailers to help tackle modern slavery

Investigation of mandatory report.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has 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.

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.

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,” he said.

However, 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. 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,” he said.

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