Response to Attorney General’s Department Report Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement Public Consultation Paper

Associate Prof Justine Nolan

More than 40 million people globally are subjected to some form of modern slavery. Their forced labour alone generates around US$150 billion per year in the global private economy. Indonesia is in the top 10 nations for slavery in the Global Slavery Index. Many Australian companies have Indonesian-made materials in their supply chains and there are over 470 registered Australian businesses operating in Indonesia. The modern slavery risk is real and the Australian Government is currently considering the introduction of legislation to require commercial organizations to report on the risk of modern slavery in their supply chain.

Joint submission Open-Ended Working Group On Ageing, 8th Working Session, 5-7 July 2017 - Neglect, violence and abuse

Prof Andrew Byrnes (and others)

Older persons are subjected to different types of violence, abuse and neglect, including physical, psychological, sexual, financial, neglect, abandonment and harmful traditional or customary practices. It may be a single or repeated act, may be against one individual or systemic, structural or part of an institutional practice, for example a restrictive practice.

Find out more about the 8th Working Session

Joint submission, Open-Ended Working Group On Ageing, 8th Working Session, 5-7 July 2017 - Equality and non-discrimination

Prof Andrew Byrnes (and others)

This response addresses the guiding questions from a global perspective. It is an executive summary of a more comprehensive statement which will be provided to the 8th working session and can be found here.

Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

Justine Nolan and Jo Ford


It is estimated that 45 million people around the world are held in some form of slavery. While the concept of slavery may seem remote to many Australians, we often unwittingly benefit from modern slavery via the clothes we buy, the food we eat and the companies we invest in. Globalisation has generated millions of jobs over the last quarter century, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty; but it has also come at a cost. Globalisation has resulted in a demand for cheap labour and modern slavery is often hidden within a vast range of supply chains.

Workers, both in Australia and abroad, connected to us via complex and often opaque supply chains, may be working in horrific exploitative conditions. ‘Modern slavery’ is a recent term popularized to refer to oppressive practices including human trafficking, forced labor (work which people are forced to do against their will under threat of punishment), debt bondage and slavery.

The Australian government is conducting an inquiry into whether Australia should adopt laws to outlaw modern slavery whether it occurs on Australian soil or abroad. Such a law could require companies to map their supply chains, determine what risks workers in the chain are exposed to and potentially make them liable for conducting business in such circumstances. Modern slavery legislation is exactly what is required in order for Australian companies to accept that the goods that they ultimately sell are not produced in a vacuum. We cannot simply avert our eyes from the oppressive working conditions that exist for many workers both in Australia and overseas and an Australian Modern Slavery Act will help in improving the lives of many workers.

Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on Draft General Recommendation No. 35 on the Gender-­‐related Dimensions of Disaster Risk Reduction in a Changing Climate

Dr Gabrielle Simm and Dr Sarah Williams

This submission by Dr Gabrielle Simm and Dr Sarah Williams follows the general order of issues raised in the draft General Recommendation. It also raises issues not included in the draft General Recommendation.

I. Introduction and II. Objective and Scope

Scope and definitions ‘Disaster’

The scope of the General Recommendation should be clarified through defining and using terms consistently. The draft General Recommendation refers to ‘disasters’ as separate to climate change (para 2), ‘natural disasters’ (para 4), ‘climate change related disasters’ (para 6) and ‘situations of disaster in a changing climate’ (para 31).

The Committee should align its use of the term ‘disasters’ with that in the ILC draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters. The draft articles state:

‘disaster’ means a calamitous event or series of events resulting in widespread loss of life, great human suffering and distress, mass displacement, or large –scale material or environmental damage, thereby seriously disrupting the functioning of society.1

There are two reasons why the General Recommendation should adopt the definition of a disaster set out in the ILC draft articles. First, the Commentary to the ILC draft articles notes the difficulty of isolating and proving causes of disasters and the undesirability of forcing the victims of disasters to establish their cause, particularly in the case of disasters with multiple causes. Second, even if the ILC draft articles are not adopted as a treaty, they draw on a decade-­‐ long extensive study of customary international law on which states and international organisations have had the opportunity to comment. It makes  sense for the General Recommendation to use the term ‘disaster’ consistently with its widespread usage within the UN system and by states.

For the full submission, download the PDF below.

Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Dr Lucas Lixinski and Darren Ou Yong

In this submission to an Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, AHRCentre Project Director Dr Lucas Lixinski and former AHRCentre intern Darren Ou Yong examine international human rights standards pertaining to change of name for transgender persons, and property rights arising from same-sex relationships. They argue that international human rights law, and particularly contemporary understandings of equality and non-discrimination under the United Nations treaty bodies’ and the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence, means that full rights to name change and enjoyment of property should be granted. This Advisory Opinion is expected to greatly advance LGBTI rights in the Americas.

Inquiry into the matter of a popular vote, in the form of a plebiscite or referendum, on the matter of marriage in Australia

Dr Lucas Lixinski, Dr Jed Horner and Darren Ou Yong

Our position is that a referendum or plebiscite on marriage equality is both unnecessary and undesirable, and our preference is for the Federal Parliament to address this issue through a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives and in the Senate. We submit that not only is this consistent with the tenets of a representative democracy, but it avoids giving rise to the perception that only supposed minority interests (which are, in fact, shared by a wide number of Australians) are addressed through referenda or plebiscites, while the supposed interests of the broader Australian polity are addressed through the regular machinery of Parliament. This constitutes a case of political exceptionalism, which, unless constitutional circumstances warrant it, should be avoided. Further, the risks of negative outcomes in the referendum process, based on overseas experiences, warn against such an endeavour.



In considering the development of a business and human rights treaty, the inclusion of provisions aimed at regulating corporate human rights responsibilities in supply chains, seems essential given not only the preponderance and reliance on supply chains in bringing goods to market but also because of their potential as a repository of corporate human rights violations. At the annual conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June 2016, the question of whether global supply chains need new rules and regulations figured prominently on the agenda. 

Submissions by Bassina Farbenblum

Bassina Farbenblum

Submission No 11 to Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into Detention of Indonesian Minors in Australia

Submission No 3 to Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Removal of Mandatory Minimum Penalties) Bill 2012 

Submission No 4 to Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Crimes Amendment (Fairness for Minors) Bill 2011

Submission No 15 to Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011

Submission No 23 to Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2010, with Jane McAdam 


Andrew Byrnes

(with Andrea Durbach), Submission of the Australian Human Rights Centre to the National Consultation on Human Rights, 15 June 2009, available at$file/Australian_Human_Rights_Centre_AGWW-7T2AAC.pdf   (cited at pp 80, 166, 170 of the Report)

(with Hilary Charlesworth and Renuka Thilagaratnam),  Submission to the National Consultation on Human Rights, 15 June 2009, available at Submission to the National Human Rights Consultation, 15 June 2009. (cited at pp 79, 253, 255, 273, 297 and 315 of the Report)

(with Hilary Charlesworth, Susan Harris Rimmer and Andrea Durbach), Submission into the Inquiry into the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, February 2009,

Evidence (with Andrea Durbach and Catherine Renshaw) given at hearing of Human Rights Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific, Sydney , 18 February 2009, available at;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22committees/commjnt/11616/0000%22

Submission to the Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific (Submission on Australia’s role in the work of the Asian Development Bank), Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, 20 November 2008, available at

(with Andrea Durbach and Catherine Renshaw), Submission to the Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific, 20 November 2008, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, available at

(with Gabrielle McKinnon, Hilary Charlesworth, and Gabriele Porretto), Submission to the Inquiry into Exposure Draft Terrorism (Extraordinary Temporary Powers) Bill 2005 (ACT), conducted by the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs of the ACT Legislative Assembly, January 2006,  (oral evidence given by other 3 authors:, p 115; report of the Inquiry at

(with Gabrielle McKinnon and Hilary Charlesworth), Submission No. 206 to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee Inquiry into the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005, 11 November 2005, available at 


(with Gabrielle McKinnon and Hilary Charlesworth), Advice to the Chief Minister of the ACT, Mr Jon Stanhope on the draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 (Cth), 18 October 2005, available at