Social Policy

Queensland resources companies strive to create long-term positive impacts on the communities in which they operate

Modern Slavery Reporting Requirements

Modern slavery exists in all countries and sectors. According to the Global Slavery Index 2018, it is more prevalent in countries and regions where there is higher inequality, weak governance, poor legal protections for workers, and basic needs go unmet. The Asia Pacific region has one of the highest rates per global region, with an estimated 25 million people in slavery. The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people, communities and businesses across all countries and sectors. It has also increased the vulnerability of workers and, in turn, the incidence of slavery.

National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery

In December, the Australian Government released the 2020-2025 National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery. The whole-of-government strategy prioritises direct survivor support, increased engagement with civil society and business and a new national evaluation framework (see further info below). It also notes the required three year review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 in 2022.

The Queensland Resources Council recognises that human rights are essential to responsible business practices. In addition to Queensland’s Human Rights Act (2019), the Commonwealth’s modern slavery laws aim to eliminate modern slavery. Some Australian companies have reporting obligations under the Modern Slavery Act 2018. QRC works with its member companies to eliminate modern slavery from their businesses and supply chains. QRC and the Minerals Council of Australia cooperate and coordinate to host workshops to assist resources companies to understand, and meet, their reporting obligations. For more information, please see the useful resources below.

The next QRC/MCA workshop is planned for 11am (Brisbane time) on Tuesday 13 April 2021. For more information, please contact David Allinson, Manager of Social and Indigenous Policy: [email protected]

COVID-19 impact

During the pandemic, transparency continues to be important, including about challenges facing companies in responding to risks alongside opportunities for positive impact. Investors and civil society expect companies to publicly communicate human rights risks in the COVID-19 context. Customers and other partners may also seek information. Transparency may also support suppliers, employees and other stakeholders to understand potential risks and management approaches.

Key resources

Here is a clear and accessible guide to assist people writing a Modern Slavery Statement, here. This is guidance only, and you should seek the advice of a Social Performance professional, or an anti-Modern Slavery specialist before finalising your Statement.

The Business and Government Engagement Section in the Australian Border Force (ABF) is responsible for driving effective implementation of the Act. This includes providing guidance and support to reporting entities about compliance.

You can contact the ABF and register for email updates by emailing [email protected].

The ABF has worked with businesses and civil society to develop the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities (2MB PDF) to comply with the Act.

Social and community development & social impact management

The resources sector understands the potential social impacts and opportunities associated with resource development. It strives to ensure that the presence of resources has a positive impact on local communities. QRC works closely with its member companies to help build a long-term, sustainable future for regional Queensland communities. To achieve this, a cohesive policy environment that encourages positive social performance is imperative.

The Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act 2017 (Qld) (the SSRC Act) ensures residents near mining operations benefit from the construction and operation of those projects. The Queensland Government committed to a post-implementation review of the SSRC Act, starting within 18 months to two years of the Act commencement. The review is required to be completed within three years of the SSRC Act commencement. The Office of the Coordinator-General is undertaking the review, with assistance from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.  The website for the SSRC Act review is listed below in relevant links.

The draft consultation report has been released. Submissions are due by 30 April. Click here to make a submission.

Please contact David Allinson, Manager of Social and Indigenous Policy: [email protected] with any inquiries.

FIFO and Accommodation

The resources sector is one of the key pillars of the Queensland economy, providing not only its primary source of export income but a fundamental role in shaping the development of regional communities through economic growth, high paying jobs and supporting regional infrastructure, services and investment.

Fundamental to this, and future success, is the sector’s global competitiveness, of which highly skilled labour plays a significant part.

For the best part of a decade, Queensland enjoyed unprecedented investment and employment in the sector tripled. As the skills base from ‘traditional’ resources communities was the first to be exhausted, Queensland resources companies recruited necessary additional labour from other parts of the state and country using long distance commuting arrangements.

While the peak phase is over and the number of long distance employees is continuing to fall, flexible workforce arranges remain essential. To secure the resources sector’s long-term future, the sourcing of labour needs to continue to be determined on a case by case basis by factors such as a project’s proximity to local towns, the availability of skilled labour and the competition for that labour.

Anti-corruption and anti-bribery resources

The mining sector has the potential to contribute to inclusive development through shared infrastructure, the creation of economic opportunities and increased revenue to government. However, corruption at the start of the mining chain, in mining approvals, can have a domino effect by undermining good governance in the rest of the mining cycle. Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Types of corrupt conduct specifically in mining approvals include a senior official soliciting speed-money or facilitation payments for processing a licence application, a member of a tender bid review panel favouring a particular applicant because of personal interest in the company, a company committing to licence conditions that it has no intention or ability to fulfil, and community leaders using land access negotiations for private benefit.

Australian businesses operating offshore should:

  • implement an anti-foreign bribery and corruption compliance program. For guidance, see Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC): A guide for Australians doing business offshore Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC): A guide for Australians doing business offshore
  • understand that making facilitation payments (i.e. unofficial payments to secure or speed up a routine government action) is illegal in most foreign countries
  • conduct appropriate due diligence before engaging and using third parties, such as agents and business partners, in foreign countries
  • be aware that the Australian Government is currently considering strengthening its anti-foreign bribery laws. This includes the potential introduction of a new corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery.

Respect at work: sexual harassment

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report, Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report (2020) has highlighted the alarming rate of sexual harassment in mining.

The report found that 40 per cent of the minerals industry workforce had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past five years, with women more than twice as likely as men to be sexually harassed.

While elements of sexual harassment concern the safety and wellbeing of staff, respect is a core value of our community, and the resources sector.

The QRC has contributed to national initiatives to build on the sector’s positive culture to make changes focused on care for our communities and staff wellbeing.

Members of the Queensland Resources Council are encouraged to support these initiatives to send a clear message that sexual harassment is unacceptable, and to eliminate it from our sector.