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07/06/18

A Modern Slavery Act for Australia: Updates from the May 2018 announcement

On 10 May 2018, the Federal Government announced that it will introduce a Modern Slavery Act (Act) in Australia by mid-2018. The proposed Act will require entities above a consolidated revenue threshold of $100 million to report on modern slavery risks in their global supply chains.

The government has championed the Act as a “clear message that modern slavery will not be tolerated in our community or in the supply chains of our goods and services”. 

The Act will target modern slavery and human trafficking in supply chains with the aim of increasing transparency around these issues for consumers and investors and improving workplace anti-slavery practices by holding businesses to account. 

All reporting entities will be required to publish an annual Modern Slavery Statement, reporting on all potential modern slavery risks and practices in their operations and supply chains that are criminalised under Commonwealth law, including slavery, human trafficking, servitude, forced labour and forced marriage. Statements will need to address an entity’s structure, operations and supply chains, any actions taken to address modern slavery risks  and the effectiveness of such actions. Statements will be made publically available in a central government-run repository to foster public oversight. Penalties will apply for non-compliance with the reporting requirement.

The reporting requirement will apply to entities with a consolidated revenue of $100 million or greater, including foreign entities carrying on business in Australia. It is envisioned that the Act will apply to Australian Government and public bodies that meet the relevant threshold, and it has been announced that the government will publish a Statement addressing Commonwealth procurement.

The move to establish a reporting requirement has been welcomed by groups such as the Australian Business Council, who says that “[i]ncreased global trade has lifted millions out of poverty and delivered higher standards of living to all Australians but it has also increased the risk that supply chains have been tainted by the use of forced labour.”

Guidance regarding specific compliance obligations will be released later this year and support for reporting entities will be provided by a dedicated Anti-Slavery Business Engagement Unit. The Department of Home Affairs has published a brief fact sheet on the proposed modern slavery reporting requirement, available at:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/consultations/Documents/modern-slavery/modern-slavery-reporting-requirement.pdf. 

If you have any questions regarding your company’s compliance obligations under the proposed Act, please contact: Andrew Hii ahii@gtlaw.com.au or Isobel O’Brien iobrien@gtlaw.com.au.

 

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