Materiality series – Part 2

Case Study

For part 2 of our ‘Materiality in sustainability’ series, we are sharing a client example where we supported the materiality assessment for the Australian dairy industry.

The Australian dairy industry has a long-standing legacy of social responsibility, including caring for cows, producing healthy, nutritious products and managing land responsibly. This is reflected in the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework (the Framework) that was developed in 2012 by the Australian Dairy Industry Council, Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Dairy Products Federation and Dairy Australia.

As part of the ongoing implementation of the Framework, Dairy Australia engaged Point Advisory and STR Consulting, to perform a full refresh of their previous materiality assessment. The materiality assessment was aligned with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Dairy Working Group’s Declaration of Trust to support business-to-business (B2B) responsible sourcing, reflecting broadest stakeholder expectations, investor focus and the global goals.

Materiality was defined according to two dimensions:

  1. Significance of the industry’s economic, environmental and social impacts.
  2. Significance to and influence on stakeholder assessments and decisions.

The materiality assessment reinforced the sustainability work that the industry has been undertaking since 2012, in that high priority topics include animal welfare issues and safe, high-quality products. It also reinforced high priority topics such as Water Availability & Efficiency and Physical Climate Risk which saw an increase in priority from previous assessments. Two previously emerging topics, Antimicrobial Stewardship and Human Rights are also now seen as a priority for the industry. In addition, Mental Health & Well-being, particularly for farmers, emerged as an issue as a result of the assessment.

These insights will be used to inform the ongoing development of the Framework and are included in the recently released Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report 2019 – Towards our 2030 Goals (you can find the report here).

We recommend materiality assessments are refreshed at least annually for reporting purposes, and detailed refresh cycles are performed at least every 3-5 years for strategic purposes.

Please contact Alan Dayeh, Principal at Point Advisory, to learn more about how materiality assessments can help inform your sustainability strategies.

Melbourne, VIC, Australia