People are one of the greatest assets to cotton farming in Australia and without skilled and dedicated workers operating in safe environments there wouldn’t be a thriving industry.

Unlike some other parts of the world, employees in Australia are protected by state and federal legislation that ensures human rights needs are met – including workers in the cotton industry.

With an increasing demand for transparency across the supply chain, the Australian cotton industry is investigating a proactive approach to ensuring its cotton does not end up in supply chains with human rights abuses.

The Australian cotton industry has invested in research and published a report that identifies risks and solutions of the cotton supply chain, which will become part of the industry’s new strategic roadmap.

It is hoped that this may ensure Australian cotton’s credentials are respected throughout the supply chain and that all actors in the supply chain meet human rights obligations when using Australian cotton.

The research, undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology, University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia, has identified seven solution approaches the industry could consider reducing the risk of labour exploitation along the supply chain.

These include:

  1. Downstream due diligence – how sellers can undertake due diligence to better understand the labour conditions of the buyers of their cotton.
  2. Australian cotton certification – extending the industry’s existing certification to include labour issues in manufacturing.
  3. Transparency and supply chain visibility – encouraging transparency in a way to increase accountability.
  4. Traceability – using technology to trace products through supply chains.
  5. Reshoring and rightshorting – examining the right mix of manufacturing locations to reduce the risk of labour exploitation.
  6. Strategic partnerships and collaboration between supply chain actors.
  7. Collaboration with worker-driven initiatives to benefit workers directly.

The research is part funded by cotton growers and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC).

More information about the research can be found here.


Cotton Australia has formed a number of authentic partnerships with retailers, brands, manufacturers and supply chain partners who share the industry's values. If your organisation believes in reducing environmental footprint, the fair and safe treatment of workers, quality product and supply chain traceability - then we may be in business.

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