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Sedex Australia Conference 2019 highlights

On 31st October, Sedex co-hosted our 2019 Australia Conference in Melbourne, with KPMG Bannara. Over 90 people attended from a diverse range of Australia and New Zealand’s largest entities, including Coles, Australia Post, Bunnings, Archdiocese of Sydney, Lion, Simplot, Macquarie, ANZ, Metro Trains, Melbourne Water, Zespri and Asaleo Care. 

The standout message was the importance of communication and relationship building to effect positive change. Articulating the rationale behind sustainable sourcing remains as crucial as ever to ensure buy-in by stakeholders. 

Leading industry practitioners and academics spoke about driving positive impact beyond compliance in the supply chain. Fiona Baxter from Coles, and Jane Mansfield from Asaleo Care shared their business approach and Associate Professor Marie Segrave presented a thought-provoking critique on the human rights aspects of modern slavery, drawing upon her extensive criminological experience.  

We held four thematic breakout sessions run in two concurrent streams, one focusing on theoretical aspects of ethical sourcing and the other on program implementation. 

Topics included: 

  • Worker voice 
  • Responsible recruitment 
  • Updates to Sedex’s Risk Assessment Tool and Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)  
  • Practical considerations when implementing an ethical sourcing program. 

We concluded the day with a panel discussion involving Officeworks, Costa and SunRice exploring their collaborative efforts with suppliers.  

There was a clear desire from attendees to foster greater collaboration to help share strategies and approaches in a complex and opaque area. The interplay between commercial realities and power dynamics remain as complicated as ever, frustrating efforts to implement best practice and facilitate remediation.  

Sedex Head of Australia, Alex Walrut says, “The vast majority of businesses involved in ethical sourcing do so as part of a broader portfolio of duties, and they are looking to capacity build and find efficiencies to achieve their KPIs. There is a consensus that the majority are at the early stages of implementing ethical sourcing and are keen maximise effectiveness”.  

The proposed changes to the Sedex SAQ and Risk Assessment Tool were particularly well received, and members are greatly looking forward to improvements in platform usability and APIs to better facilitate access to data and integration with their own platforms.