Australia has room to improve when it comes to factoring the rights and needs of children into business decisions and supply chains: global assessment

SYDNEY/ GENEVA, Wednesday 28 November 2018: UNICEF and The Global Child Forum have released a ‘Children’s Rights and Business Atlas’ that has assessed Australia as having more work to do on indicators measuring business impacts on children across 195 countries and territories.
Released at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva tonight, the Atlas is an online interactive and data-driven due diligence tool. It is designed to assist businesses, investors and industry organisations to gauge their footprint in relation to children in their country and around the world in various capacities including as workers, employees, consumers, family members and community members.
For companies operating in Australia, the Atlas advises the adoption of basic to moderate due diligence procedures to understand the risks they may present to children and their families, although some specific business practices require heightened investigation.
“Compared to other countries, risks in Australia may not be high, in general, but they will vary depending on the type of industry, workforce composition, business operations and countries that a company may be linked to through their supply chains and subsidiary companies,” said Alison Elliott, Senior Policy Advisor at UNICEF Australia.
For example, companies are advised of heightened risks in Australia that relate to particularly high rates of obesity, with 1 in 4 children in Australia being overweight or obese in 2014-15. Such a finding would have implications for companies involved in the marketing and advertising of high fat sugar salt (HFSS) products.
“With Australia importing over $376,873,000 worth of goods and services in 2017 alone, there is a clear need for Australian businesses to understand the risks that may exist both domestically and internationally, as well as through business partners, subsidiary companies and source countries in their global supply chains,” Ms Elliott said.
She said that, with the recent inquiries into modern slavery and supply chain transparency in Australia, many companies in Australia are wanting to better understand human rights risks in their businesses.
“We know that it can be challenging for companies to identify how and where their operations can negatively impact children – because they can often be affected in indirect and unintended ways,” she said.
“The Atlas will better equip companies – particularly those that have an international footprint – to assess the specific risks to children and families in countries where they operate, so they can take proactive steps to prevent and mitigate potential harm to those children, and avoid business risk at the same time.
Ms Elliott said it was increasingly necessary for businesses that are concerned about sustainability and their reputation, among consumers and investors, to take a proactive approach to respecting the rights of children.  The Atlas aims to assist companies and their advisers with this complex but fundamental task.
In launching the Atlas in Geneva today, Shanelle Hall, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Field Results said, “The Atlas is …a key tool to foster longer-term business sustainability through improved due diligence of children’s human rights provisions. The world requires businesses to put the needs and rights of children at the forefront of their decision-making as we cannot achieve child-centred Sustainable Development Goals without businesses.”
The Children’s rights and Business Atlas can be accessed here.
About Global Child Forum
Founded in 2009 by the Swedish Royal Family, Global Child Forum is a leading forum for children’s rights and business dedicated to innovative thinking, knowledge-sharing and networking. Global Child Forum believes in the power and responsibility of business, working in partnership with all parts of society, to create a prosperous, sustainable and just society for the world’s children. For more information, visit: