A new guide released today will help Australia’s minerals industry update existing anti-slavery programs to reflect the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adopting a whole-of-business approach, the guide covers considerations regarding modern slavery risks in operations and supply chains in Australia and overseas.
The MCA collaborated with business and human rights advisory firm Pillar Two on the tailored industry guide, which has been developed to complement the Australian Government’s modern slavery guidance approach.
MCA CEO Tania Constable said the guide is an important step in the MCA’s ongoing work to both support the Australian minerals industry’s COVID-19 response and assist companies to respect human rights.
‘Australia’s minerals industry recognises that respect for human rights is integral to responsible business practice,’ Ms Constable said.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has increased vulnerabilities to modern slavery, an abhorrent situation that involves using deception, threats and coercion to undermine the freedom of individuals. Human trafficking, debt bondage, servitude and the worst forms of child labour are types of modern slavery.
‘The Australian minerals industry’s first commitment during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep workers, families and communities safe while sustaining the national economy and livelihoods.
‘This approach includes placing special focus on supporting vulnerable populations, consistent with the sector’s commitment to respect human rights expressed in Principle 3 of Enduring Value – The Australian Minerals Industry Framework for Sustainable Development.’
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs the Hon Jason Wood MP welcomed the launch of the guidance.
‘The impacts of COVID-19 have increased the vulnerability of workers in businesses’ global operations and supply chains to modern slavery, including in Australia,’ Mr Wood said.
‘It is vital that businesses continue to take steps to address modern slavery risks during the pandemic and that they report on these actions through their modern slavery statements under our landmark Modern Slavery Act.
‘I congratulate the MCA for developing guidelines for mining sector businesses to manage modern slavery risks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘I encourage mining companies and other entities to read and apply this guidance, which complements the Government’s official guidance and outlines important practical steps businesses can take to understand and manage their modern slavery risks in the context of COVID-19.’
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney Anti-Slavery Taskforce and Global Compact Network Australia provided expert review of the guide.