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Seafarers : Wesfarmers Modern Slavery Statement 2021 focuses on Seafarers’ Human Rights Protections

London. UK.  Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has worked with Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s largest listed companies, to improve contractual safeguards within head agreements with shipping carriers. This work was recently reported in the release of the Wesfarmers Modern Slavery Statement for 2021.

Wesfarmers has included a case study in its recently released Modern Slavery Statement for 2021.


“Managing the risk of modern slavery in shipping supply chains by strengthening contracts with carriers.

For more than 12 months, Wesfarmers has closely monitored the now widely reported humanitarian risks to global shipping seafarer welfare attributable to COVID-19.

To mitigate the risk of modern slavery in our shipping supply chains, we engaged our shipping partners on these issues.

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To address the issue of crew changes, during the year, Wesfarmers wrote to all its carriers who confirmed they are working within the International Maritime Organisation framework, together with various ILO and other maritime labour conventions, to protect the health and welfare of seafarers.

Wesfarmers engaged Human Rights at Sea, a United Kingdom-based global not-for-profit, to advise on appropriate contract clauses to include in head agreements with carriers to further assist in safeguarding the human rights of seafarers.

In the 2021 financial year, Wesfarmers reviewed and enhanced the modern slavery clauses in our shipping contracts. We continue to engage these partners regularly on this issue, seeking confirmation that their practices and controls are adequate.”

HRAS Comment

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HRAS was pleased to have been asked to assist Wesfarmers with an independent review of modern slavery and human rights clauses used in shipping head agreements to improve safeguards in their supply chain activities around seafarer’s human and labour rights protections.

CEO, David Hammond, commented: “Hopefully, our collaboration will affect every seafarer employed by every carrier under revised head agreements going forward.” 


From its origins in 1914 as a Western Australian farmers’ cooperative, Wesfarmers has grown into one of Australia’s largest listed companies. With headquarters in Perth, Wesfarmers’ diverse businesses include home improvement, outdoor living, and building materials; general merchandise and apparel; office and technology products; manufacturing and distribution of chemicals and fertilizers; industrial and safety product distribution; and gas processing and distribution. Wesfarmers is one of Australia’s largest private-sector employers with approximately 114,000 team members and is owned by more than 483,000 shareholders.


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