Business and human rights

The Australian Government believes that business and respect for human rights go hand in hand. Businesses must comply with all Australian laws. In addition, under international law, the government is obliged to ensure that non-state actors, including businesses, respect human rights.

The Australian Government encourages businesses to apply the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles set international standards guiding government and business practice on human rights, and encourage voluntary commitments from business.

National consultations on business and human rights

In early 2016, in response to Australia’s November 2015 Universal Periodic Review, the Government committed to progress national consultations on further implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Initial consultations took place in mid-2016: with business in partnership with the Global Compact Network Australia, and with civil society through a roundtable convened by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Law Centre.

A dedicated session at the Australian Dialogue on Business and Human Rights (October 2016) provided an opportunity for multi-stakeholder discussion.

A Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group on Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights met for the first time on 2 May 2017. This Advisory Group is a key part of the Government’s consultations, providing multi-stakeholder expert advice.

Broader consultation beyond the Advisory Group will be undertaken at key points through 2017.

To inform consultations, the Government commissioned the Stocktake on Business and Human Rights in Australia [PDF 7 MB]. The Stocktake maps existing laws, policies and practice on business and human rights in Australia.

2017 review of the Australian National Contact Point

The Australian National Contact Point (ANCP) is currently under review.

The Review is being led by the Treasury. Further details, including on public consultations, can be found on the ANCP website.

New partnership with Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

DFAT is pleased to work with the new Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in Australasia. Together we’ll advance respect for human rights in business by building corporate transparency, strengthening accountability and empowering civil society.

Last Updated: 20 July 2017