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Australia at the ILO

Australia nominates Greg Vines as candidate for Director-General of the ILO

The Australian Government nominates Greg Vines as candidate for the position of Director-General of the ILO.

Greg has demonstrated tremendous leadership, having delivered significant organisational reform and governance improvements.

If elected, Greg will be the first Director-General from the Asia-Pacific region.

This nomination further demonstrates Australia's commitment to the crucial work of the ILO in setting international labour standards, developing policies and programs in support of social justice, and promoting decent work for all.

Australia is strongly committed to the ILO

Australia was a founding member when the ILO formed in 1919 and has always played an active role in its operations. The Australian Government has held a seat on the Governing Body of the ILO almost continuously since 1945. The Governing Body is the executive board of the ILO. It makes decisions on ILO policy, programme and budget, and sets the agenda for the International Labour Conference.

In June 2021, Australia was elected as a titular (voting) member of the Governing Body for 2021–2024. Australia represents the Far East Asia and Pacific electoral sub-region within the Asia-Pacific Government group.

Delegates from the Australian Government, employers and workers have always been active social partners at the ILO, including at the International Labour Conference, the Governing Body, and in the supervisory system such as on the Committee on Freedom of Association.

Australia is a key donor partner in delivering the ILO's Decent Work Agenda, which helps advance the economic and working conditions that give all workers, employers and governments a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress.

1973 ILC delegation Australia at the ILO
Australia’s delegation at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, June 1973. From left: employer representative Mr George Polites; two Australian Government representatives and worker representative Mr Robert Hawke. © Copyright ILO
Robert James Lee Hawke, 23rd Prime Minister of Australia addressing the International Labour Conference in Geneva, 10 June 1983. © Copyright ILO

Then Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, the Hon. Michaelia Cash the ILO Centenary Conference in Geneva, June 2019.
Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Michaelia Cash addressing the first virtual International Labour Conference, 8 June 2021.


Australian support to the ILO

Australia has a longstanding commitment to the ILO, demonstrated in part through our funding for flagship programs.  Australia’s project funding has supported ILO programs across the globe, with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. Our funding has supported the promotion of decent work, through improvements to employment, livelihoods, conditions of work, and labour migration with a particular focus on social inclusion and supporting women and people with disabilities.

Australia is a key supporter of Better Work, the ILO’s flagship programme to improve working conditions and enhance business competitiveness in the global garment industry by helping factories meet national and international labour standards. The programme is active in 1,300 factories that together employ more than 2.4 million workers in 12 countries, most of whom are women. Australia's funding for Better Work goes to projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Australia is also a key development partner of Better Work’s five-year gender strategy, which aims to empower women, reduce sexual harassment and close the gender pay gap in the global garment industry.

Under the Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Region Program (TRIANGLE in ASEAN), Australia is working with the ILO and Canada to maximise the contribution of labour migration to equitable, inclusive and stable growth in the region. TRIANGLE in ASEAN promotes safe and legal migration, and works to ensure that the benefits of labour migration are equally realised by men and women migrant workers, employers and government. A key component of the program is its Migrant Worker Resource Centres, which provide direct support services to migrant workers, including counselling, training and legal assistance. TRIANGLE in ASEAN has reached over 178,000 migrant workers through its Migrant Worker Resource Centres since 2014.

Australia has been a strong supporter of the ILO’s long-running livelihoods program in Sri Lanka, including activities that enable the return of families to recently de-mined areas. Australia also supports a program of work with women and people with disabilities in Jordan to access improved livelihood opportunities in the floriculture sector. In the Philippines, Australia is working with the ILO to assess economic and labour markets conditions in Mindanao, which will inform the design and delivery of skills training and labour market interventions to improve employment and livelihood opportunities.

Through the ILO, Australia is supporting the Government of Timor-Leste to rehabilitate and maintain the country’s rural roads to support capacity development and improved economic outcomes. The Roads for Development Support Program employs labour-intensive approaches to maximise employment opportunities and improves access to health centres, schools and markets.

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Michaelia Cash at the ILO Centenary Conference
Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Michaelia Cash (right) representing Australia in the Centenary Declaration committee at the ILO Centenary Conference in 2019.

"Mr Vines has a positive vision for the ILO that fosters social justice by pursuing decent work, achieving gender equality and supporting the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic." – Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Michaelia Cash

The Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, and Greg Vines touching elbows in a COVID-friendly handshake
Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Michaelia Cash with Greg Vines.