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‘Australian berry and citrus farms most at risk of having slave-like working conditions’

Woolworths has listed 332 suppliers in one section of their Sustainability Report where more information is needed, which they are working to find, or need to work with them to ensure the right licencing. These are not identified these workers as "at risk". 

Also, Coles has conceded farms that harvest produce then send it to a packhouse are not covered by its ethical sourcing program.

The Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2018 to require companies to review their supply chains and check if workers face human trafficking, servitude, forced labour, deceptive recruiting or other poor conditions.

Joanna Howe, Associate Professor in Law at the University of Adelaide, said the first reports were a ‘highly significant moment’ for migrant workers, but more needed to be done. "In order for this not to be merely window dressing, the statements that they make need to be capable of investigation. Self-reporting is public relations for these large companies unless there is accountability on the claims that they make in their statements."

Woolworths has reviewed its direct suppliers and the suppliers that supply to them, known as indirect suppliers. It found stone fruit and berry farms were more likely to rely on labour-hire firms, which have been linked to labour transgressions in the past. Berries and citrus had the most sites classed "at risk" of slavery, though grapes had a large number relative to the number of suppliers.

According to¸ the 332 sites include some that have not completed their risk profile or still have not met Woolworths' requirements.

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