Our Modern Slavery Disavowal begins by broadly defining slavery as the forced, or enforced, illegal practice or situations where people are forced, against their will, to perform tasks or work for little, insufficient, reward or pay or for nothing at all. The intimidations can take many forms and may be overt, covert, psychological or physical. Regardless of the actual coercion methods used, threat, violence, fraud, deception or abuse the end result is the same. Persons are prevented from exercising their free will to decline or refuse the work demanded of or from them. While these abuses are negligible or virtually unknown in Australia, it is estimated that more than 41 millions all over the world are browbeaten or subjugated into some variant of modern slavery. Is further reckoned that modern slavers profiteer to the tune of AUD 195 billions each year and that in the Asia-Pacific regions and countries alone, approximately 25 millions are enslaved. It is called modern slavery in so far that it is no longer legal and is not permitted as ancient slavery was, when slaves were legal chattels, visibly, publicly and legally bought, sold, transported, shackled, manacled, confined, imprisoned and even branded.
Contrary to some sections of the Australia public’s perceptions or beliefs, picture frames and picture framing have been commodified, if not prostituted, from the fine art craft once practised, into cheap, modern, mass-produced, disposable trade products, ordered in bulk by global supply chains, large department stores and wholesale importers. These entities generally prioritize the price of a picture frame, rather than its quality, as the major, if not dominant, factor. Naturally enough, almost none of the frames ordered and manufactured for these entities are made locally. Our award wages, labour costs and price of materials are simply too far too expensive for them. To put this in the proper commercial perspective, the 2018 minimum wage in Australia was AUD 18.93, in China about AUD 1.10 and Bangla Desh about AUD 0.18. And so if you’re a multinational company, going to order thousands of photo frames per month, it will be self-evident from which country the frames will come from. Therefore, most, if not the great majority, of the picture frames and contract picture framing imported into Australia is manufactured in second and third-world countries. Unfortunately many of those do not have legally binding minimum-pay award wages and sometimes, if there be any, these can be, and often are, easily circumvented. Worse still, there are exploiters in China and Bangla Desh do not even want to pay their own countries’ minimum wage however low or cheap it may be. Why this is so is beyond the scope of this content, however it behoves on Australian importers, like ourselves, and it is the cornerstone of our Modern Slavery Disavowal, not to import frames from suppliers known or suspected of this practice since this is not only unethical and immoral but also illegal since the passing by the Australian Parliament on 29 November 2018 of the Modern Slavery Bill.
The foundation of our Modern Slavery Disavowal is the realization that indirectly, via our picture frames suppliers we may be, albeit unwittingly, vulnerable to being contingently exposed to the risks of modern slavery. Seeking to eliminate, or at least minimize, such vulnerability we have adopted a Slavery Risk Surveillance (SRS) policy to lessen and mitigate and potential supply chain risks in areas, such as picture frames manufacturing, where these illegal practices do not occur. A core part of our SRS supervisory role is to obtain commitments from our suppliers stating that neither their companies nor their suppliers practise or are involved in these illegal activities. These commitments from part of our Sustainable Supplier Status (SSS) procurements protocol by which we assess each and every one of our suppliers. For instance, it is not the only the Management of the factories which manufacture our photo frames and picture frames for us that need to comply with our SSS. Our world’s best practice SSS also includes the raw materials and components suppliers to our selected manufactures, such as the companies supplying the picture framing glass, the picture frames wood mouldings and photo frames hardware, to name but a few. To enhance either and both SSS and SRS’s integrities we have also implemented a Safe Secure Whistleblower (SSW) initiative which affords anyone, customers, employees, or suppliers to raise any pertinent matters with our Management in a wholly secure, private and confidential manner . Our commitment to continually monitor, supervise and police the hereunto detailed policies, assessments and risks is constant and ongoing.
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