Fifteen Property Council members have banded together to create an industry-first online platform that supports a proactive approach to modern slavery risks.
The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act came into force on 1 January, heralding a new reporting era for larger companies operating in Australia.
The Act requires companies with annual revenues of more than $100 million to report annually on the risks of Modern Slavery in their operations and supply chains and to demonstrate the actions they are taking to address those risks.
With the first reports due at the end of 2020, members of the Property Council’s Modern Slavery working group comprising procurement, sustainability and risk managers, have collaborated to create the Property Council Supplier Platform.
Suppliers complete a single questionnaire that is accessible through an online dashboard, enabling Property Council members to collect, compare and share data.
The Property Council’s national policy manager Francesca Muskovic says the platform will deliver a consistent and streamlined approach to reporting.
“We have created a platform that removes some of the barriers that prevent suppliers from addressing Modern Slavery by reducing the administrative burden and making it easy to share information,” Ms Muskovic says.
Modern Slavery is a “complex and challenging” issue, Muskovic adds, and “supply chains won’t be transformed overnight”.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 15,000 people are living in Modern Slavery conditions in Australia. This includes serious exploitation such as servitude, forced marriage, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting for labour or services, and the worst forms of child labour.
Muskovic says risks of Modern Slavery in the property, construction and infrastructure sectors are often found in organisations and supply chains that depend on labour, and frequently low-skilled labour, as part of their operations. This may include construction, manufacturing, cleaning and security roles that are characterised by labour-intensive, temporary, night-time or irregular work and can be at a higher risk for forced labour prevalence.
“The property industry has a strong track record of working together to address issues like sustainability and diversity. We understand the power of collaboration, which is why we’ve created this open-source platform that all suppliers can access.”
Organisations involved in the project include Abacus Property, AMP Capital, Brookfield Properties, Charter Hall, Cromwell Property Group, Dexus, Frasers Property Australia, Goodman Group, The GPT Group, Investa, ISPT, Landcom, Mirvac, Stockland and Vicinity Centres.
The group is supported by industry experts Edge Environment, the Supply Chain Sustainability School and Better Sydney. The platform was developed by Informed 365.
“It’s the first time we are seeing an entire industry adopt a strategy of collaboration to gather accurate reporting on human rights and modern slavery risks – across clients, suppliers and sub-contractors, including organisations that might usually be seen as competitors,” says Informed 365’s CEO and cofounder Nicholas Bernhardt.
“Eradicating modern slavery from supply chains requires long-term commitment,” Muskovic adds.
“We won’t get to the bottom of our entire supply chain tomorrow, but that must certainly be the long term objective.”
The Australian Government’s Guidance for Reporting Entities explains what organisations need to do to comply with the Act.
Watch a short video about the Property Council Supplier Platform to learn more and access other useful resources.