Developments requiring further attention
NATIONAL: Australian companies sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
In 2013 the ABC program Four Corners alleged that it had found evidence of Australian retailers using underpaid factory workers in Bangladesh to source their products.  Factory workers in Bangladesh were found working in unsupported and unsafe building structures for minimal wages.
As a result of ongoing concerns over such practices, the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety In Bangladesh (2013) (“the Accord”), chaired by the International Labour Organisation, was created and signed by a number of Australian companies, including K-mart, Woolworths and Target, in order to ensure safety in the Bangladeshi manufacturing industry. 
The signing of this voluntary Accord is a positive step for Australian retailers to seek to abide by internationally acceptable standards of human rights in their business activities in other countries. However, the voluntary nature of the Accord is insufficient in ensuring that all Australian retailing companies are complying with international standards and agreements. A recent report by the Australian Council for Superannuation found that of the 34 Australian companies investigated, only one third had publicly available policies addressing child and forced issues for their supply chain. 
Accordingly, the Australian government must seek to adapt its legislative framework to ensure legal accountability of Australian companies and subsidiaries regarding abuses of human rights committed overseas and to establish monitoring mechanisms, investigation and redress of such abuses.
NATIONAL: Department of Foreign Affairs ‘Mining for Development Initiative’
In 2011 the Australian government established the ‘Mining for Development Initiative’ which aims to support developing countries to maximise the economic benefits from their extractives sector in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. Australia has invested $105 million in Mining for Development over the previous three years. 
However, recent criticism of the initiative has emerged and non-governments organisations such as AidWatch have stated that the initiative is simply “an expensive exercise in corporate welfare.” 
The Human Rights Law Centre (“HRLC”) has similarly criticised the program, in that the tax-payer funded program is diverting funds from poverty alleviation strategies to mining companies’ corporate social responsibility programs. The HRLC has stated that the Australian government, “could better use their time examining how mining affects communities, ensuring that mining companies uphold their human rights obligations and supporting local civil society groups to hold mining companies to account,” and furthermore, that mining companies should “foot the bill for their own corporate social responsibility activities and leave aid money for non-commercial activities that have the primary aim of alleviating poverty.” 
While this initiative is hoped to provide a more sustainable method of reducing aid dependency in developing countries, the government must also act on the recommendations of the CRC in order to mandate protection of child and human rights by the business sector. As found by activist group Australian Corporate Accountability Now, since the publication of the CRC’s recommendations, “little to no progress of any kind to incorporate these recommendations has been made… Instead there has only been the increasing promotion of mining as a strategy for advancing sustainable development.” 
Areas lacking progress
NATIONAL: Lack of progress on CRC’s recommendations
The Australian government has stated in the past that it expects “all Australian companies to comply with all applicable laws and obligations when operating abroad and to conduct their business according to best practice.”  The mining industry itself has made some progress on the issue, including the release of The Australian Minerals Industry and Human Rights: Managing Human Rights Risks and Opportunities through the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights publication, intended to advance the consideration of human rights in mining in Australia.  Companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Newmont Mining Corporation and MMG have implemented policies based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 
However, such expectations and voluntary best practice codes are not an adequate replacement for entrenched Australian legislation and policy frameworks.
It is the duty of the state to protect against human rights abuses by third parties under frameworks such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No 16 (2013), the United Nation’s ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’’ Framework and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. However, the Australian government has not yet entrenched these best practice principles into enforceable legislation. The CRC has also recommended that Australia enact laws or policies to mandate the implementation of human rights assessments prior to the finalisation of credit and trade agreements in order to further protect child rights. This recommendation has not been acted upon.
The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade has also recommended that legislation be enacted which promotes accountability, transparency and a focus on human rights in the activities of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (“EFIC”). 
However, although the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (New Mandate and Other Measures) Bill 2013, which was developed in response to these recommendations, is before Parliament, it does not include many of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, including a statutory obligation on the EFIC to comply with human rights obligations when financing local and international projects involving Australian companies. 
The Australian government must seek to immediately act on these issues and the recommendations of the CRC, through the enactment of legislation, measures to encourage coordination with other countries and human rights impact assessments. All Australian corporations impacting on child rights overseas in Australia should be subject to mandatory enforcement processes and the standards set by the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as other internationally acceptable standards including the UNICEF, UN Global Compact and Save the Children’s Child Rights and Business Principles. 
NATIONAL: Lack of regulation in junk food advertising industry
Children’s rights to health are also being impinged in the business sector by companies in the food, beverage and advertising sectors.
Australia continues to record rising levels of childhood obesity. However, recent research has shown that although many food and beverage companies have made voluntary pledges to reduce children’s exposure to the advertising and promotion of unhealthy food and drink products, levels of child exposure continue to be high.  Although some companies have attempted to reduce direct-to-child marketing, the narrow range of media and absence of statutory regulation, resulting in a lack of enforceability, suggests that the current methods of self-regulation in this industry are insufficient. 
Comprehensive, statutory measures have been recommended,  in conjunction with adequate monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, in order to protect children’s rights in this area and mandate ethical conduct by the business sector.
The Australian government must seek to act in order to protect Australia’s children from obesity and associated health issues, as well as encourage businesses in this sector to abide by best practice guidelines through the introduction of statutory regulation.