Three months since the Australian Modern Slavery Act was legislated, a report launched today reveals Australian fashion brands are feeling the pressure to ensure all workers within their supply chain have access to the correct working wage and basic human rights.
Baptist World Aid Australia’s Ethical Fashion Report highlights which Australian brands are making positive strides and meeting these expectations, and those continuing to fall behind the line.
The sixth edition of the Ethical Fashion Report is the largest to date, grading 130 apparel companies from A to F on the current systems and strategies in place to ethically manage their supply chains.
In the past year, the report found 38% of companies have improved their overall grade, with a significant improvement across the industry in 79% of the areas assessed. These areas include development in gender equality, responsible purchasing practices, child and forced labour, and transparency.
Baptist World Aid Australia CEO, John Hickey, said, “With the Modern Slavery Act set to cause waves in the Australian fashion industry, Baptist World Aid are excited to see Australia finally begin to meet the ethical standards that are demonstrated globally. Year on Year, we are proud to see more Australian companies taking a proactive step in being accountable to consumers and workers by particpating in our Report, and we hope the Act motivates more companies to follow suit.
“We know that the beginning of the supply chain is where the risk of child labour, forced labour and exploitation is most prevalent, so it’s encouraging to see from the report that more companies are taking proactive action to identify and mitigate these risks.”
Director of Stop the Traffik Australia, Carolyn Kitto said the Modern Slavery Act was a game changer for the fashion industry.
“The Act will ensure fashion brands are prioritising transparency, and consumers will be able to see what their most-loved labels are doing to address modern slavery in their supply chain. But more importantly, the Act has impacted the lives of millions of workers and their families,” said Kitto.
“The Ethical Fashion Report from Baptist World Aid sets the benchmark for fashion brands and provides a framework for the detail they need to provide on their supply chain as part of the Modern Slavery Report.”
This year, in addition to the four key areas in which companies are graded, including Policies, Transparency and traceability, Auditing and Supplier Relationships and Worker Employment, Baptist World Aid Australia have included Environmental Management as their fifth grading criteria for the first time.
Outland Denim continued their high-ranking status this year, achieving an A+ ethical grade with more Australian brands including Kookai, Cotton On and Country Road achieving an impressive A- grade.
“The Ethical Fashion Report aims to both empower Australian companies to take action and address the issues within their supply chains, but also to encourage consumers to take a more conscious step in purchasing their clothes ethically,” said Hickey.