UQ's response to modern slavery

The University’s vision – to provide knowledge leadership for a better world, through educating the brightest minds and amplifying research that creates positive change – would not be achievable without upholding the highest levels of integrity and transparency in its commitment to human rights.

Modern slavery is when coercion, threats or deception are used to exploit individuals and deprive them of their freedom.

These serious crimes affect millions globally, and include people trafficking, forced servitude, debt bondage, child labour, and deceptive recruiting for labour or services.

Modern slavery exists in Australia today.

As a top 50 global university, UQ recognises our duty to take a robust and sustained approach to addressing modern slavery risks within our operations and supply chain and ensure that our frameworks and processes identify and minimise these risks.

The University strives to make an impact in the fight against modern slavery, supported with significant involvement from its senior management, internal champions and its cross-functional working group throughout 2021 and beyond.

UQ’s response to modern slavery – our first statement under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) – provides an overview of the University and its controlled entities’ operations and supply chains; actions to assess and address identified risks; and how to measure their effectiveness under the Act.

View UQ’s Modern Slavery Statement

The following resources provide more information about modern slavery, and how businesses and organisations can understand and minimise the risk that their operations and supply chains may be contributing, directly or indirectly, to modern slavery practices.

Content warning: information contained in the following links portrays victims of exploitation and describes their experiences, which may be distressing to some readers.


UQ resources

UQ resources

UQ’s Governance and Management Framework Policy demonstrates the UQ Senate and management’s commitment to the effective and efficient governance and management of the University.  

The Code of Conduct Policy sets out the ethical principles that the University requires staff members to comply with in the performance of their roles at the University. UQ has a zero tolerance for intentional and material breaches of UQ Values and Code of Conduct. University staff are required to draw on evidence and reason in their decision-making to establish probity when taking actions to realise the University’s purpose. 

The Enterprise Risk Management Framework Policy provides the overall framework, direction and oversight for the systematic, disciplined and consistent identification and assessment of risks (including opportunities) and for their effective and efficient management. UQ adopts an enterprise approach to risk management and ensures its risk management framework, processes and practices recognise the impact of human, cultural and environmental factors on University objectives. 

The Procurement Policy aligns with and implements UQ’s obligations under the Queensland Procurement Policy (QPP). UQ’s key procurement objectives include engaging in economically, socially, environmentally and ethically responsible procurement (sustainable purchasing), purchasing only from reliable and reputable suppliers and supply chains that are consistent with UQ’s responsible and sustainable purchasing principles, and not engaging with suppliers who have supply chains that utilise modern slavery. Probity, ethical considerations and social responsibility remain integral components OR are integral to UQ’s procurement culture. 

The Health, Safety and Wellness Policy establishes the University’s overall health, safety and wellness objectives and demonstrates the Senate’s and the Vice-Chancellor and President’s commitment to continual improvement of UQ’s health and safety performance.  

The Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment Policy outlines the University’s commitment to ensuring that staff, students and visitors are not subjected to behaviours, practices or processes that may constitute discrimination, harassment, workplace bullying, vilification, or victimisation. The procedures attached to this Policy outline the options available to staff and students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and/or workplace bullying. 

The Fraud and Corruption Management Policy recognises that the University has a zero-tolerance stance on fraud and corruption and is committed to maintaining an organisational culture that will ensure that effective prevention of fraud and corruption is an integral part of all university activities, consistent with its Code of Conduct and the law. Staff members and students may report suspicions of fraudulent or corrupt activities and are provided legislative protection. 

UQ’s Sustainability Policy covers adopting applicable undertakings to ensure sustainability is embedded in the University’s teaching, research, engagement and operational activities across all its campuses to foster a culture of sustainability that supports global priorities.  

The Environmental Management Policy offers guidance to stakeholders in meeting legislative and governance requirements of environmental management. 

The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2018-2021 is UQ’s current enterprise agreement and clearly sets out working conditions and entitlements for eligible staff and language teachers. UQ’s enterprise bargaining process is regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

The Delegations Policy and Financial and Contract Sub-delegations Procedure requires that UQ contract sub-delegates consider probity issues and undertake an appropriate level of pre-contract due diligence before binding the University to a contract.

The Work Integrated Learning and Work Experience Policy and Procedure provides a framework for managing the engagement of students in work-based learning experiences for educational benefit. 

The Volunteers Policy outlines appropriate engagement of community members who provide their services to the University in a voluntary capacity.  

The University also undertakes a variety of governance activities such as conducting due diligence of its downstream partners and ethics approvals for research initiatives. The nature and extent of those activities and potential impact of the related controls on identifying, assessing and mitigating modern slavery risks need to be explored and understood in detail. This is reflected in UQ’s Modern Slavery Action Plan for 2021 and beyond.


External resources

External resources

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – This document outlines the UN’s guidance for human rights relating to transnational corporations and other business enterprises. 

Red Cross- Addressing Modern Slavery – A Guide for Australian Businesses – This document provides an overview of modern slavery, and best practice to mitigate operational risk for Australian businesses.  

Australian Red Cross – Modern slavery resources – A suite of materials with important information about modern slavery for community members and frontline workers. 

Anti-Slavery Australia webpage – Searchable library of resources on modern slavery in Australia including some free eLearning opportunities. 

2018 Global Slavery Index – Provides a country-by-country ranking of the number of people affected by modern slavery, as well as an analysis of the actions governments are taking to respond, and the factors that make people vulnerable.  

Department of Home Affairs webpage – Information from the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs information on criminal justice, people smuggling and human trafficking. 

Modern Slavery Statements Register – Australian Government’s online register for Modern Slavery Statements provided by entities reporting under the Modern Slavery Act 2018

Below are some courses offered by non-profit and Government organisations to help raise awareness of modern slavery, how to identify red flags and how to report them.

The purpose of these courses is to create awareness of the concept of modern slavery, its signs and its potential impacts.

Modern slavery: taster course

Provider: Anti-Slavery Australia – a not-for-profit organisation that offers training programs to increase awareness about all forms of modern slavery, the indicators of modern slavery, protections that are available, best practice and referral pathways. They also offer training about the Australian Modern Slavery Act and the supply chain reporting requirements.

Description: This free, online course from Anti-Slavery Australia covers all the types of modern slavery – human trafficking, servitude, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruitment, the worst forms of child labour, and forced marriage, through examples and real life stories. 

Duration: Approximately 2 hours.

Take the course 

Modern slavery in public procurement

Provider: Australian Border Force (ABF) – part of the Department of Home Affairs, the ABF is responsible for offshore and onshore border control enforcement, investigations, compliance and detention operations in Australia.

Description:  This free online module developed by the ABF will help you understand what modern slavery is, what initiatives you can take to practice ethical procurement practices, and rid slavery from global operations and supply chains. 

The course covers:

  • Understanding modern slavery globally and in Australia, and where the risks lie
  • Compliance with legislation; ensuring procurement processes assess for risks of modern slavery (practical tips, tools and resources)
  • Reporting modern slavery concerns.

Duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Take the course 

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