The ARA respects the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill

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Friday 30 November 2018: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) acknowledges the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 through the Federal Parliament yesterday. The new legislation introduces a mandatory reporting requirement for large businesses and organisations, among other means designed to tackle modern day slavery.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, modern slavery is estimated to affect 45.8 million people across the world. Under the new laws, businesses exceeding $100 million in annual turnover will be required to investigate their supply chains and report on their activities to stamp out instances of modern slavery.

The ARA expects the first modern slavery reports to be completed by the end of the 2019/2020 financial year.

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said many retailers have already employed ethical sourcing programs and are passionate about eliminating modern slavery from their supply chains.

“These new laws will introduce a collective approach to address instances of modern slavery, which will make it far easier for individual organisations to make a bigger impact through their supply chains,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We believe a competitive, market-based approach to investigating and stopping modern slavery will produce results by encouraging a ‘race-to-the-top’ mentality amongst retailers.”

The ARA undertook comprehensive consultations with major retailers, submitted to three separate inquiries, and engaged directly with the Federal Government to ensure that the new requirements were flexible and practical for retailers.

“We have been extensively involved in the development of the new laws over the last 18 months and the ARA continues to be the only retail organisation advocating for a pragmatic approach on behalf of the industry,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The complex and interconnected nature of many supply chains can cause major headaches for retailers when trying to eliminate unethical practices and potentially also when complying with modern slavery reporting.”

Mr Zimmerman said that previous calls for strict penalties and the introduction of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner went too far, and that the new laws strike the right balance.

“The ARA will continue to represent retailers when the development of regulations and guidelines begins in-earnest over the next few months, to ensure that pragmatism prevails,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Moving forward, we will be seeking for further clarity on behalf of retailers regarding a number of practical elements, 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.”

The ARA will has produced a brief explainer for retailers on what the changes will mean for their businesses, which can be accessed here. Retailers can also stay informed and up-to-date with the latest developments and guidance by visiting www.retail.org.au, or by checking our fortnightly Retail Voice newsletter.

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For interview opportunities with ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, call the ARA Media team on 0439 612 556 or email media@retail.org.au.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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