Events and conferences

Fighting modern slavery

The Design Futures Council (DFC) is holding an event to focus on sustainable supply chains and efforts to eliminate modern slavery in the engineering, construction, architecture and design industries. The session will be held on Tuesday, August 21 at 6pm in Sydney.

According to the Global Slavery Index, over 40 million men, women and children are enslaved around the world, including in Australia where there are 15,000 people living in modern slavery.

The Walk Free Foundation, which compiles the index, defines modern slavery as situations where one person has taken away another person’s freedom – their freedom to control their body, their freedom to choose to refuse certain work or to stop working – so that they can be exploited. Freedom is taken away by threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power and deception. It includes the crimes of human trafficking, slavery and slavery like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced or servile marriage, the sale and exploitation of children, and debt bondage.

Due to the economic drivers in many of these situations, governments are now enacting laws to hold businesses accountable for their supply chains. The DFC event will explore what is being done, and what it means for organisations.

“In 2017 the Commonwealth Government announced that it proposed to enact Australian Modern Slavery in Supply Chain Reporting Requirements,” says the DFC. “The announcement came amid an increasing international and domestic focus on addressing modern slavery in the business community, including throughout the extended supply and transport chains. New South Wales passed its Modern Slavery Bill 2018, now the Modern Slavery Act 2018.”

As a consequence there will be a push for larger companies to submit their Modern Slavery Statements to avoid:

  • Risking negative publicity, as their non-compliance will be listed on the central repository
  • Missing out on procurement opportunities with the Australian Government (on the basis that Government agencies may introduce requirements to procure only from entities that complete a Modern Slavery Statement)
  • Missing out on supply opportunities with other business who determine that they will only deal with modern slavery compliant businesses.

“The need for firms to increase transparency and sustainable business models is ever increasing,” says the DFC. “This touchstone function will be the first of multiple events to examining the modernisation of the supply chain.”

Speaking at the event will be Sally Irwin, Managing Director of The Freedom Hub, Scott Alden, Partner, Holding Redlich, and David Baggs, CEO Global Green Tag.

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