International engagement on labour issues

About the International Labour Organization

First established under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is now the specialised tripartite agency of the United Nations dedicated to improving economic and working conditions through labour standards, policies and programs that promote decent work for all.

Its main aims are to:

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

The ILO operates on a tripartite basis, bringing together governments, workers and employers from 187 members states. In Australia's case, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) represents workers, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) represents employers.

For the 2021-2024 term, Australia is a member of the ILO Governing Body, the Executive decision-making body for the organisation.


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Our objectives and responsibilities

Australia has a long history of engagement with the ILO having been a founding member in 1919. Today, the principal objectives of our engagement with the ILO is to advance, protect and promote Australia’s broader national and international labour interests, by ensuring Australia’s views are reflected in the ILO’s deliberations and outcomes.

Engagement with the ILO, including tripartite dialogue with employers and workers, and ratification of international labour standards, helps to ensure Australia’s workplace relations and work health and safety frameworks reflect international best practice and facilitate safe, fair and productive workplaces. It is also a key platform for Australia to promote the multilateral system and rules-based international order.

We are responsible for:

  • Providing advice to government on a range of international labour issues.
  • Representing Australia at key international labour meetings, including the annual ILO International Labour Conference and sessions of the ILO’s Governing Body.
  • Managing Australia's engagement with ILO development assistance activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Engaging both formally and informally with Australia’s social partners, the ACTU and ACCIto discuss international labour issues.
  • Managing the Australian Government's treaty reporting requirements to meet its obligations under the ILO Constitution.
  • Analysing ILO Conventions and Recommendations for possible ratification.
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The International Labour Conference

The International Labour Conference is held annually and brings together member States of the ILO to develop and adopt international labour standards, supervise the application of these standards and to freely examine and debate international labour issues of importance.

Each member State is represented by a delegation consisting of government, employer, and worker delegates. Every delegate has the same rights, and all can express themselves freely and vote as they wish.

The Australian delegation to the ILC is comprised of delegates from the Australian Government, ACCI and the ACTU.

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