Australia is now in the early stages of introducing legislation that could put an end to companies endorsing a variety of modern forms slavery within their global supply chains.
Along with practices such as human trafficking, forced marriage and sexual servitude; modern slavery also includes widespread incidents of forced adult and child labour and domestic servitude.
Through two live virtual seminars, staff from UWA's disciplines of Business, Law and Philosophy have been collaborating with UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) partners from Leeds University and the Copenhagen Business School to try and learn from the UK modern slavery legislation introduced in 2015.
Issues such as government procurement, penalties for non-compliance, auditing, and making statements publicly available were just some that were discussed.
Led by Associate Professor Dave Webb from the Business School (Marketing) and Fiona McGaughey, Lecturer in Law, the group are excited by the research ideas that have begun to emerge.
“As business and civil society in Australia continue to explore what the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia means for them, engaging in an international conversation with our learned UN PRME colleagues is not only a valuable opportunity for us to share experiences but, moreover, to explore collaborative research opportunities”, Dr Webb said.
Australian companies could soon be obliged to report on the steps they are taking to address modern slavery in their businesses and supply chains, both downstream and upstream, with regular transparent reporting.
This follows a Joint Standing Committee interim report and Australian Government consultation and impact statement released in August this year, placing the topic in the political limelight.
“With modern slavery on the agendas of many organisations, advancing and participating in these dedicated conversations demonstrates both FABLE’s commitment to solving this crisis, and positions our staff at the cutting edge of Modern Slavery research,” Dr Webb added.
The group are planning a third session to further explore research topics and potential funding, and also the possibility of hosting a dedicated corporate webinar discussion with our business partners in WA and beyond.
The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) to which UWA Business School is an Advanced Signatory, is a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in business schools around the world, and to equip today's business students with the understanding and ability to deliver change tomorrow.
As a voluntary initiative with over 650 signatories worldwide, PRME has become the largest organised relationship between the United Nations and management-related higher education institutions.
To find out more, visit unprme.org
Alexandra Wingate (Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education)
(+61 8) 6488 5597