Combating modern slavery through procurement

Peter Norman Personnel

As businesses grapple with eliminating the insidious issue of modern slavery, Peter Norman Personnel discusses the important role of procurement.

People may not always think about it, but slavery remains a major issue in today’s world.

Modern slavery describes situations where a person is coerced by an individual or group for the purpose of exploitation. Practices that can constitute as modern slavery include human trafficking, servitude, forced labour and debt bondage.

In 2019, the Australian Government’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 established a national reporting requirement that applies to large businesses with an annual consolidation revenue of at least $100 million. These entities must prepare annual modern slavery statements, setting out actions to assess and address risks in their operations and supply chains.

Peter Norman Personnel is a recruitment agency that helps to place industry-specific, project-driven contract professionals across the gas pipeline, utilities infrastructure, heavy vehicle transportation and manufacturing industries.

Senior Consultant for Contracting and Recruitment, Samantha Perera recently attended the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association’s (APGA) first environmental, social and governance (ESG) forum in Brisbane.

The event highlighted the importance of ESG practices specifically tailored to the pipelines and gas sector. It also provided a platform for engaging discussions, knowledge-sharing and collaboration surrounding ESG and implementation, noting that this area is not limited to environmental issues.

Perera participated in a panel that discussed the unique challenges of modern slavery and how companies within the pipeline sector can approach them.

The Modern Slavery panel brought together distinguished industry experts, each specialising in their respective fields.

Together, they delved into crucial topics, encompassing present and anticipated transformations in legislation, efficient supply chain management, the role of third-party risk managers, and the importance of educating procurement teams and internal staff.

Their combined expertise provided invaluable insights and solutions to combat the menace of modern slavery effectively.

Identifying modern slavery in the supply chain can be a complicated challenge.

“As modern slavery can affect multiple facets of the supply chain, businesses need to be equipped with the right tools to combat this issue,” Perera said.

“For procurement, there is a high level of responsibility to tackle this issue and prevent exploitation.

“Procurement officers can ensure their organisation supports positive change in the conduct of suppliers and market practices to address potential modern slavery risks.”

According to Perera, there are many resources available to assist in mitigating these risks.

“There is a procurement toolkit, developed by the Australian Border Force, that provides guidance to procurement officers to identify and manage risks associated with modern slavery,” Perera said.

“Another important factor is education, as organisations cannot identify and assess modern slavery risks without properly educating their procurement officers.

“The Australian Government has developed online training modules which can help educate procurement officers on various aspects of modern slavery.”

This article featured in the September edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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