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Australia’s engagement with the International Labour Organization

We manage Australia's engagement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) on international labour issues.

About the International Labour Organization

The ILO is a specialised agency of the United Nations. Its main aims are to:

  • promote rights at work
  • encourage decent employment opportunities
  • enhance social protection
  • strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

The ILO operates on a tripartite basis, bringing together governments, employers and workers. In Australia’s case, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents employer and the Australian Council of Trade Unions represents workers.

Australia is a deputy member of the ILO Governing Body (2017-2020), which is the ILO's key decision-making body.

Our objectives and responsibilities

Our main objective in engaging with the ILO is to advance, protect and promote Australia’s broader national interests. We do this by ensuring Australia’s views are reflected in the ILO’s deliberations and outcomes.

We are responsible for:

  • Managing the Australian Government's treaty reporting requirements to meet its obligations under the ILO Constitution.
  • Considering ratification of identified ILO treaties as and when the government requires.
  • Contributing to Australia's engagement with ILO development assistance activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Providing advice to government on a range of international labour issues, including trade matters.
  • Representing Australia at key international meetings, including the annual ILO International Labour Conference and the Governing Body.
  • Meetings with the International Labour Affairs Committee. This is where the government, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions discuss international labour issues.

The International Labour Conference

The Australian Government also engages with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Council of Trade Unions on international labour issues through participation in the International Labour Conference. It operates as a global platform to examine labour and social issues.

Around 5000 delegates attend the International Labour Conference. They represent, governments, and employers' and workers' organisations, from the ILO's 187 member states. Its chief tasks are to adopt and supervise conventions and recommendations.

Australia’s representative to the ILO

Australia’s representative to the ILO is Ms Moya Drayton. She commenced in August 2019. Ms Drayton also holds the position of Minister-Counsellor (Employment) to the OECD. This sits within the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

ILO updates

ILO Centenary

The ILO is celebrating its centenary in 2019 with a year-long program of events and activities. The highpoint of this was the International Labour Conference in Geneva from 10-22 June. Close to 6300 delegates attended the conference, representing governments, workers and employers from the ILO’s 187 member States, including 36 world leaders.

The conference centrepiece was the adoption of the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work [PDF 312KB]. The declaration reaffirms the importance and relevance of the ILO, its mandate today and into the future. The implementation of the declaration will be discussed at the next Governing Body meeting, taking place in Geneva from 24 October to 7 November 2019.

ILO members also adopted a new convention and recommendation to end violence and harassment in the world of work. Australia was actively involved in negotiating both texts.

Find out more

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