Australia: Govt. announces appointments to Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group; unions, civil society and academics express concern
The Australian Government has announced the appointment of ten experts to its new Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group, following a call for public nomination.
A coalition of groups has expressed concern about the lack of stakeholder diversity and absence of union or civil society representation in the Expert Advisory Group. The coalition is alarmed that the business-dominated composition of the group will lead to "the disturbing result that Australia's efforts in combatting modern slavery will be driven by companies that are subject to Australia's modern slavery laws, rather than the interests of people at risk of modern slavery".
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Author: Daniel Hurst, The Guardian
16 June 2020
Australia's efforts to tackle modern slavery are at risk of being thrown off course because the government's newly appointed expert panel is dominated by business interests, according to campaigners and legal advocates.
Labor's home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, said it was hard to understand how the government could comprehensively address modern slavery with an advisory group "that contains no representation from the groups who work directly with workers who are working in slavery or at risk of slavery".
[...] Unions and civil society groups are not represented.
Carolyn Kitto, the national co-director of Be Slavery Free...pointed to the Australian Border Force's guidance material on modern slavery.
The document encourages businesses to collaborate with civil society organisations and workers and their representatives "to strengthen your entity's response to modern slavery".
Jason Wood, the assistant minister for customs, community safety and multicultural affairs, has described the group as "a world-leading initiative that brought together key experts with practical knowledge and expertise in combating modern slavery".
But Keneally wrote to Wood...to raise "significant concerns" about what the expert advisory group would be able to achieve without representation from civil society organisations and unions.
"From the seventy applicants, not a single appointment has been made from those who are working directly with workers at risk of modern slavery," she said in her letter to Wood.
An Australian Border Force spokesperson said the government wanted to ensure the Modern Slavery Act drove "long-term change" and feedback from businesses was "vitally important".
Author: Workplace Express
The Morrison Government's expert advisory group is too top-heavy with big business representatives...
A coalition of civil society organisations, unions and academics has called on the Department of Home Affairs to include union and human rights experts on the advisory group, saying that at least 70 people nominated...
Author: Australian Associated Press, Yahoo News
2 June 2020
Unions are concerned workers are not represented on a new government-appointed modern slavery working group, which is dominated by business leaders.
ACTU president Michele O'Neil said the group needed worker representation to get any meaningful outcome.
"Any advisory group set up to understand and combat the scourge of modern slavery must have a place for workers at the table," she said.
"Unions deal with the issues of labour exploitation every day and it's workers in the end who are victims of this insidious trade."
The Migrant Workers Centre says the government has deliberately "stacked" the group to exclude the voices of working people.
"If the government was genuine about its attempts to end modern slavery, it would listen to the advice of migrant workers and their advocates," the centre says.
Human rights - not corporate interests - must inform the Government’s plan to eradicate modern slavery
Author: Human Rights Law Centre
2 June 2020
A coalition of civil society organisations, unions and academics has called on the Department of Home Affairs to include union and human rights experts in the newly established Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group to ensure workers' rights and not just the interests of business are at the centre of the Government's plan to eradicate modern slavery.
The Morrison Government announced the members of the Expert Advisory Group...revealing over half of the appointments were from large Australian companies. There are no representatives from either the Australian Council of Trade Unions, individual unions or civil society organisations. [...]
Michele O'Neil, ACTU President:
"Any advisory group set up to understand and combat the scourge of modern slavery must have a place for workers to at the table. Unions deal with the issues of labour exploitation every day and it's workers in the end who are victims of this insidious trade. In order for there to be a genuine and meaningful outcome from this process, workers and their unions need to be involved.
Keren Adams, Legal Director with the Human Rights Law Centre:
"Now, more than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, creating mass unemployment and heightened risks of labour exploitation, the need for the Government's approach to be informed by those working directly with workers at risk is critical. As it stands the advisory group is stacked with companies who are meant to be the subject of the new modern slavery laws, rather than organisations representing the interests of exploited workers. The Government must listen to human rights experts if it is to eradicate forced labour in supply chains."
Professor Justine Nolan, University of New South Wales Law and co-author of Addressing Modern Slavery (2019):
"Tackling modern slavery is an enormous challenge that requires collaboration. It should and must involve workers, as well as business, consumers, government and civil society. So far, the process of developing Australia's modern slavery laws has provided for input from a broad range of people and organisations. Going forwards, the Government must ensure its expert advisory group also reflects the diverse voices within this debate if it is to have legitimacy."
Letter to the Hon Jason Wood MP, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs concerning the recent appointments to the Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group
Author: Joint letter
1 June 2020
We, the undersigned civil society organisations and unions, write to express our concern regarding the alarming absence of union or civil society representation in the Department of Home Affair’s newly established Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group (Expert Advisory Group).
Seventy people, including many of the leading experts in this field from unions, academia and civil society organisations, nominated for the Expert Advisory Group. Yet the appointments...overwhelmingly represent business interests.
Six out of the ten appointments are from large Australian companies. Three of the five permanent members of the group – the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group and the Business Council of Australia, also directly represent the interests of business and a fourth (the Global Compact Network for Australia) is predominantly a network of Australian business. There are no representatives from either the Australian Council of Trade Unions, individual unions or broader civil society organisations including human rights or anti-slavery organisations.
This leads to the disturbing result that Australia’s efforts in combatting modern slavery will be driven by companies that are subject to Australia’s modern slavery laws, rather than the interests of people at risk of modern slavery.
We urgently request that further appointments be made to the Expert Advisory Group from unions and civil society organisations to ensure balanced representation in informing the Australian Government in its approach to eradicating modern slavery in supply chains.
[Human Rights Law Centre; Australian Council of Trade Unions; United Workers Union; Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania; Be Slavery Free; Transparency International Australia; Business and Human Rights Resource Centre; Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR); Australian Lawyers for Human Rights; Salvation Army; Action Aid; RMIT Business and Human Rights Centre; Victorian Trades Hall Council; Professor Justine Nolan, University of New South Wales; Professor Fiona Haines, University of Melbourne; Dr Martijn Boersma, University of Technology Sydney; Adjunct Professor Holly Cullen, University of Western Australia; Dr Alice de Jonge, Monash University; Dr Fiona McGaughey, University of Western Australia; Dr Annie Delaney, RMIT University; Dr Pichamon Yeophantong, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy]
Author: Australian Associated Press, Yahoo News
Author: Australian Government
25 May 2020
Ten Australian experts in combating modern slavery and supply chain management have been appointed to the Government’s Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group (Expert Advisory Group).
“This new body will provide strategic advice to Government to support the effective implementation of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act and drive best-practice responses to eradicate exploitation in our supply chains,” Assistant Minister [Jason] Wood said.
The Expert Advisory Group includes five permanent members from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, Business Council of Australia, Global Compact Network Australia and the Law Council of Australia.
Following a call for public nomination, the ten appointments to the Expert Advisory Group are:
- Liana Allan, Founder, Migration Alliance
- Kate Baker, Senior Sustainability Specialist, Telstra
- Måns Carlsson-Sweeny, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance Research, Ausbil Investment Management
- Sebastian Conley, Sourcing Operations Manager, Country Road Group and David Jones
- Ro Coroneos, Senior Manager, Risk - Supply Chain, Lendlease Corporation
- Chris Crewther, Former Chair, Modern Slavery Inquiry (Hidden in Plain Sight), Foreign Affairs and Aid-Sub Committee, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Australian Parliament
- Dr Kate van Doore, Senior Lecturer, Griffith Law School
- Katie Knaggs, Group Ethical Sourcing Manager, Costa Group and representative of the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance
- Sonya Rand, Sustainable Development Manager, Bunnings
- Sunil Rao, Lecturer, La Trobe University Law School