There are 4300 identified cases of modern slavery in Australia.
Before you say to yourself we don’t have slavery in Australia you should be aware that modern slavery is defined as:
- Forced labour –work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of punishment.
- Debt bondage or bonded labour – when people borrow money they cannot repay requiring work to pay off the debt losing control over conditions of their employment and debt.
- Human trafficking–transporting, recruiting or harbouring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.
- Descent-based slavery –people born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved;.
- Child slavery – child slavery occurs when a child’s labour is exploited for someone else’s gain including child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery.
- Forced and early marriage – when someone is married against their will and cannot leave the marriage. Most child marriages can be considered slavery.
Until now, governments have focused resources on reducing the demand for the use of modern slavery, which is hoped would decrease both the price and demand for modern slaves. However, there has been a change in how to combat Modern Slavery and the Australian legislators are considering enactment of anti-modern slavery legislation along the lines of the UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015.
Where this could affect your business and being ready to consider whether you have human rights in your business should be addressed in two areas
- Internal to the company – identification of risks, development of management system, training and tracking
- External to the company – management of human rights risks within the supply chain.
Most companies find that implementing human rights risk management processes within the supply chain daunting due to the complexity of the supply chain. For example large companies have around 3,500 suppliers and to implement risk management processes need careful planning.
The prioritisation process (or human rights risk assessment process) will go a long way in helping to identify
- key areas of risks, and
- identify high risk suppliers.
At the end of the day, the development of a human rights management framework should be able to demonstrate conformance to the following 8 questions:
- What does the company say publicly about its commitment to respect human rights?
- How does the company demonstrate its human rights commitment?
- Does the company have any specific policies that address respecting human rights and, if so, what are they?
- What is the company’s approach to engagement with stakeholders on human rights?
- How does the company identify changes in the nature human rights over time?
- How does the company integrate its findings about each salient human rights issue into its decision-making processes and actions?
- How does the company know if its efforts to address each human rights issue are effective?
- How does the company enable effective remedy if people are harmed by its actions in relation to human rights?
Would you like to know more? Contact Oy-Cheng Phang at Zoic Environmental
Oy Cheng Writes:
The Australian Government seeks to create impact investment funds to enable profitable capitalisation of natural assets and have released a discussion paper Discussion Paper Social Impact Investing (January 2017) on their view how to support the growth of this market.
The 2015 report on Impact Investing in Australia’s surveyed active social impact investments as of 30 June 2015 finding that the aggregate value of the 15 products surveyed was $1.2 billion. At this point, the market was dominated by green bonds ($900 million total).
By 2016, Impact Investing Australia has identified that the demand among local investors for social impact investing over the next five years as grown to at least $18 billion.
With such large demand to participate in impact investing there is a need to verify activities of the investment fund to confirm the activities of the investment. Throughout the Government’s recent discussion paper, there is no discussion of the need to conduct third party verification or certification audits of either the investment fund itself or the activities of the investment (i.e. the impact).
For any financial instrument available on the market, APRA and ASIC has stringent regulatory requirements for financial reporting, data verification and audits, however, the same standards does not seem to apply to the independent verification of impact claims. All too often the claim of increased or successful impacts are justified by data provided by the teams involved in the development and management of the business and associated impacts, which have not been externally verified.
The increasing rise in demand for impact investments to be used as a mechanism to raise funds for social improvement project (such as the Murray-Darling Water Fund), and the nature of impact investors, makes it necessary to ensure robust systems are established to confirm the quality of impacts, and allay investors’ concerns relating to the efficiency and effectiveness of the fund. It’s a question of managing risk through robust systems.
Zoic Environmental is a specialised environmental and sustainability consultancy, experienced in due-diligence and compliance assessments of corporations and their supply chains. For more information, go to www.zoic.com.au.
Key points covered by NSW EPA at this meeting were:
- Kate Herring identified that there are proposed changes to the CLM Act and CLM Regulation to promote better consistency and provide process for tracking Management Plans.
- Anthea White provided an alert that Draft Auditor Guidelines released and identified notable proposed changes:
- Requirement for Auditor to Notify EPA immediately of suspected false and misleading information, inaccurate waste classification, waste that has been taken to a facility that cannot lawfully receive the waste
- Auditors are required to attach a Remediation Action Plan or Environmental Management Plan to the Site Audit Statement
- Auditor’s are able to collect verification samples
- Helen Prifti alerted all to new waste guidance for PFAS
- Andrew Hawkins confirmed that Chemical Control Orders are currently being reviewed. Patricia Fabiano foreshadowed some likely changes with respect to pesticides.
The EPA has issued an Addendum to the Waste Classification Guidelines (2014) – Part 1: classifying waste in response to the classification of per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as emerging contaminants. The addendum contains interim test values developed by the EPA for specific contaminant concentration (SCC) and leachable concentration using the toxicity characteristics leaching procedure (TCLP) for the most common PFAS compounds. The addendum is available on the EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/wasteregulation/classify-waste.htm
The NSW EPA is implementing a state wide strategy to identify facilities in NSW where the past use of per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) may have resulted in site contamination.
This strategy includes an initial screening of sites, particularly focusing on whether the chemicals are present in soil or water. A decision tree has been developed to assist in the evaluation of the preliminary results for site prioritisation. This includes the use of trigger points to assist in the screening of data. Detailed investigations, if warranted, will be undertaken in accordance with appropriate contaminated land guidelines.
The decision tree will be reviewed following the release of national guidance on PFAS.
This document is now available on the EPA webpage and can be accessed here: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/clm/decision-tree-pfas-contamination.htm