Submission: Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme 2005 (NSW)

The Inquiry into the Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme 2005 (NSW), undertaken by the Modern Slavery Committee, is a comprehensive evaluation focused on the Scheme’s role in mitigating modern slavery within the clothing manufacturing sector of New South Wales (NSW). It delves into the textiles, clothing, and footwear (TCF) industry’s characteristics, examining aspects such as industry size, workforce demographics, supply chain complexities, and the prevalence of modern slavery. Additionally, the inquiry reviews the Scheme’s current application, its alignment with international human rights standards, and the need for any modifications to enhance its effectiveness. It also explores the Scheme’s enforceability, including methods to promote compliance, and considers extending the Scheme to other industries vulnerable to modern slavery due to their supply chain characteristics. This investigation is crucial for identifying strategies to combat modern slavery, ensuring that the TCF industry, and potentially other sectors, operate in line with global human rights commitments and provide better protection for workers in NSW.

My co-authored submission offers several recommendations to enhance the Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme to mitigate modern slavery within the clothing manufacturing sector NSW:

  1. Promote Supply Chain Mapping: The scheme’s unique approach to examining the entire supply chain from retailer to outworker helps in identifying vulnerabilities and instances of modern slavery that may be overlooked by Commonwealth legislation. It’s suggested that state action is needed to mandate such mapping for smaller entities not covered at the Commonwealth level.
  2. Create a Supply Chain Database: The establishment of a comprehensive database to capture detailed supply chain information is recommended. This would aid various stakeholders, including the NSW Office of Industrial Relations, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner, by providing them with readily accessible information.
  3. Articulate Collaboration between Government Agencies: The proposals for supply chain mapping and database creation are in line with the objectives of both NSW and Commonwealth governments to combat modern slavery. The recommendation emphasizes enhanced inter-agency collaboration, which can augment existing policy goals and lead to more effective oversight and action against modern slavery within supply chains.
  4. Explore Extension of the Scheme: The recommendation suggests that the scheme could serve as a model for other industries. By enhancing transparency, accountability, and worker protection, it could pave the way for similar oversight in industries that are at high risk of modern slavery and labor standards violations, especially those industries with many entities below the Modern Slavery Act (2018) reporting threshold.

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