Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement
Abt Associates is committed to the elimination of all forms of modern slavery within our operations and supply chain. To this end, Abt Associates is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and supports the Ten Principles of the UNGC on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, including the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour (principle 4), and the effective abolition of child labour (principle 5). In addition, we are committed to continual improvement so that our policies, procedures, and processes remain effective with the aim to prevent modern slavery.
REPORTING PERIOD AND SCOPE
This statement sets out actions taken by the Abt Australia and Abt Britain Corporate Group (referred to in this statement as the Group) to assess and address modern slavery risks in its global operations and supply chain for financial year starting 1 April 2021 and ending 31 March 2022, pursuant to s54(1) of the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth).
The Group is wholly owned by Abt Associates Inc. (F.I.D. 04-2347643), a company incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and registered in the State of Maryland in the United States of America (collectively referred to as Abt Associates).
This joint statement is prepared and submitted by Abt Associates Australia Pty Ltd (A.C.N. 161 695 156) on behalf of the following reporting entities which are wholly owned subsidiaries:
(1) Abt Holdings Australia Pty Ltd (A.C.N. 129 332 681); (2) Abt Group Australia Pty Ltd (A.C.N. 120 662 026); and (3) Abt Associates Pty Ltd (A.C.N. 091 591 294) for the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth); and (4) Abt Britain Limited (Company Number 10633588) (referred to as Abt Britain) for the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act 2015. Abt Associates Australia Pty Ltd has prepared this statement in consultation with the reporting entities listed above.
Abt Associates Australia Pty Ltd and its Australian reporting entities are collectively referred to as Abt Australia. A joint statement has been prepared because these entities use the same policies and processes, operate in the same sector, and have shared suppliers. This also applies to the other Australia-based and overseas entities that Abt Australia owns or controls.
Abt Britain has adopted Abt Australia’s compliance framework and has comparable policies and procedures as Abt Australia, operates in the same sector, and has comparable procurement needs.
The Abt Australia and Abt Britain boards comprise substantially the same directors and company secretary. Both Abt Australia and Abt Britain own and control other entities to facilitate the delivery of services in its home office locations and overseas.
ABOUT ABT ASSOCIATES
Abt Associates is defined by its mission to improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people worldwide. We are a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for our rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and has been recognised as one of the top 40 international development innovators.
Our global staff of over 3,700 work in more than 50 countries and includes national and international experts who are recognised for their knowledge, innovative research techniques, and insightful analyses and recommendations.
The Group’s operations include direct employment of workers, predominantly in professional services roles, with provision of program management services and specialist advisory services including but not limited to governance and public sector reform, health services, policy and systems, research monitoring and evaluation, and gender equality and social inclusion. As part of our program management services, we may manage the following on behalf of our clients: procurements (including of technical assistance), grants, delivery of remote health services, subcontracting of construction projects, security and/or subcontracting of local security services, impact investing, and behavioural change initiatives.
Abt Australia’s home office locations are based in Australia, with overseas operations in the Asia Pacific region. Abt Britain’s home office is based in the United Kingdom with overseas operations in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. The Group’s supply chain is complex and dispersed across these regions. In addition to standard procurement required to support a professional services firm, the supply chain also consists of downstream partners engaged to support delivery of international development programs overseas. The diverse supply chain includes NGOs, research institutions and universities, consultancy companies, church partners, local in-country suppliers, travel and accommodation providers, security firms, and suppliers of medical and IT equipment and consumables.
RISK ASSESSMENT AND CONSULTATION
In 2020, the Group conducted an initial group wide risk assessment. Resources were dedicated to understanding key risk factors related to modern slavery, including the ILO indicators of forced labour, and private sector best practice in managing and mitigating the risk of modern slavery practices in operations and supply chains. Briefing sessions were held to ensure program and home office personnel informing the group wide risk assessment were briefed on the key risk factors.
All programs and home office locations completed a local risk assessment (inherent risk evaluation only) pertaining to their local operations and supply chain and informed by their country/regional context. These local risk assessments were then analysed and consolidated to produce the Group’s overall risk assessment. Consultation with overseas entities owned and controlled by Abt Australia and Abt Britain was conducted at the program level as the Group’s overseas entities are set up to facilitate the delivery of programs overseas. Australia- based entities owned and controlled by Abt Australia were represented by the higher entity.
This year, in preparing this statement, the group wide risk assessment was reviewed by key stakeholders. As part of their review, they considered whether there have been material changes to the environment/context (e.g. COVID-19) and our ways of operating that would change or impact the likelihood or severity of modern slavery in the Group’s operations and supply chain. These key stakeholders represented home office and program locations, with executive responsibilities for operations and safeguarding. The review concluded that there have been no material changes to the Group’s risk profile since the initial risk assessment was conducted in 2020.
The Group’s inherent risk of being directly linked to, causing or contributing to modern slavery practices in its operations are assessed as mostly medium risk, except for child labour which is assessed as high risk; and the inherent risk of Abt’s supply chain causing or contributing to modern slavery practices is assessed as high to very high given the lack of transparency in the supply chain, which is aggravated by its complexity and that it includes high risk locations and high-risk industries, such as medical equipment, cleaning services and the hotel industry.
Please note that the inherent risk rating does not account for existing controls such as safeguarding policies and measures, and procurement due diligence processes.
- Key risk sources identified include: Lack of transparency in the supply chain and procurements from high-risk locations and high-risk industries.
- Prevalence of modern slavery in the Asia Pacific region – the region accounts for 62% of the global estimate (even though it only accounts for 56% of the world’s population). It also has a high prevalence of forced labour compared to other regions. Abt Australia has programs in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia, where the estimated prevalence of modern slavery victims per 1,000 population are 10.3, 7.7, 7.7, and 4.7, respectively. Australia and the United Kingdom rates are 0.6 and 2.1 for every thousand people in the country, respectively.1
1 The Walk Free Foundation, 2018 Global Slavery Index: Asia and the Pacific Report (accessed 18 September 2020) <https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/regional-analysis/asia-and-the- pacific/>
Abt Associates is committed to taking steps to promote the rights of all, to strengthen protections and to prevent harm and abuse to individuals we work for and who work for us. Abt Associates multi-pronged approach to safeguarding addresses unequal power dynamics and vulnerabilities that are relevant to combatting modern slavery, as well as more broadly preventing exploitation and abuse of individuals. Our commitment to safeguarding is embedded in organisational practice and workplace culture; and clearly communicated to staff, contractors, partners, and communities associated with our programs in all contexts.