Property Australia

Supplier platform stamping out modern slavery

PROPERTY AUSTRALIA December 8, 2020

The Property Council’s supplier platform, launched in 2019 to tackle modern slavery in supply chains, now captures “tens of thousands of suppliers and billions of dollars in annual procurement spend,” says Francesca Muskovic.

Three key takeaways:

  • The Property Council Supplier Platform, spearheaded by 15 Property Council members in 2019, now has 25 organisations supporting the initiative
  • The platform was developed in response to the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act, which came into force on 1 January 2019
  • The platform helps key suppliers outline the actions they are taking to assess and address modern slavery risks across shared operations and industry supply chains – with 2,650 suppliers engaging with the platform to date.

The Commonwealth Modern Slavery 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.

The International Labor Organisation estimates that 40.3 million people are trapped in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

The Act identifies eight types of serious exploitation: trafficking in persons, slavery, servitude, forced marriage, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting for labour or services, and the worst forms of child labour.

Francesca Muskovic, the Property Council’s national policy manager for sustainability and regulatory affairs, says the Property Council Supplier Platform now shares “tens of thousands of suppliers and billions of dollars in annual procurement spend”.francesca

Initial data from the platform, delivered by Informed 365, shows that 12 per cent of respondents do not yet understand or have a general awareness of where modern slavery may exist in their operations and supply chains.

Seven per cent of respondents manufacture products overseas or maintain foreign operations that contribute to their delivery. Furthermore, 47 per cent of respondents use sub-contracting or third-party recruitment organisations.

Robin Mellon, CEO of Better Sydney and project ,manager for the Property Council’s Modern Slavery Working Group and Supplier Platform says asking suppliers “what they know, what they are doing and what processes they are following around human rights and modern slavery” makes good business sense.

The process can “strengthen relationships, build capacity across sectors, highlight supply chain weaknesses or knowledge gaps, and establish grievance mechanisms that actually work,” Mellon explains.

Margot Black, Charter Hall’s head of sustainability and co-chair of the working group acknowledges that property and construction supply chains are complex, with many suppliers work for multiple organisations simultaneously.

“Rolling out a uniform platform across the industry increases reporting efficiency [and] encourages greater transparency in supply chain management,” Black says. It also facilitates “continuous improvement and productive partnerships around priority solutions”.