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Criminal justice

We work together to stop serious and organised crime in Australia.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery describes situations where offenders use coercion, threats or deception to exploit victims and undermine their freedom.

Practices that constitute modern slavery can include:

  • human trafficking
  • slavery
  • servitude
  • forced labour
  • debt bondage
  • forced marriage, and 
  • the worst forms of child labour 

Modern slavery can occur in every industry and sector and has severe consequences for victims. Modern slavery also distorts global markets, undercuts responsible business and can pose significant legal and reputational risks to entities.

Entities that take action to combat modern slavery in their operations and supply chains can protect against possible business harm and improve the integrity and quality of their supply chains.

They can also increase profitability, investor confidence and access to financing opportunities. 

The Australian Government is taking a global leadership role in combating modern slavery. There is no place for modern slavery in the Australian community or in the global supply chains of Australian goods and services. 

Modern Slavery Act 2018

The Australian Parliament passed the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 (the Act) on 29 November 2018. The Act established a national Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement (Reporting Requirement) and entered into force on 1 January 2019.

This Reporting Requirement applies to large businesses and other entities in the Australian market with annual consolidated revenue of at least AUD$100 million.

The Reporting Requirement supports the Australian business community to identify and address their modern slavery risks, and maintain responsible and transparent supply chains.

Entities required to comply with the Reporting Requirement must prepare annual Modern Slavery Statements.

These statements must set out the reporting entity’s actions to assess and address modern slavery risks in their global operations and supply chains. The Australian Government will make these statements publicly available through an online central register.

In a world-first, the Australian Government will also comply with the Reporting Requirement.

As required by the Act, the Australian Government will prepare annual statements about potential modern slavery risks in government procurement and investments.

Key resources  

The Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit (the Unit) in the Home Affairs Portfolio is responsible for implementing the Act. The Unit’s role includes providing general advice and support to entities about compliance with the Reporting Requirement.

You can contact the Unit by email at: slavery.consultations@abf.gov.au

The Unit has worked with businesses and civil society to develop detailed guidance material for entities required to comply with the Act.

See: Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities

Modern slavery: Knowing your supply chains conference

On 26-27 June 2019, the Unit convened Australia’s first, government-sponsored modern slavery conference.

The conference aimed to equip large businesses to better understand their supply chains and comply with the Act.

Over 400 delegates from eighteen countries attended the conference, including representatives from major Australian and international businesses.

The conference included seven expert panel discussions with twenty-five business and civil society speakers from Australia and internationally.

The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs also addressed conference delegates.    

Video - Tackling modern slavery in supply chains

Hello, I’m Brad Armstrong, Deputy Comptroller-General and Group Manager of the Customs Group, Australian Border Force.

The United Nations has estimated that over 40 million people around the world are exploited in the supply chains of goods and services that we use every day.

The Department of Home Affairs is taking a global leadership role in addressing modern slavery in supply chains.

We recently hosted an international Modern Slavery conference in Sydney to raise awareness of the Modern Slavery Act.

The Act will increase transparency and scrutiny of the actions large business take to assess and address modern slavery risks in their supply chains and operations.

Over 450 delegates attended the conference. Our aim for the conference was to bring together international governments, business, civil society and academia to explore how we can end modern slavery in the supply chains of our goods and services.

Business interest in the conference was strong. We had senior representatives from multinationals and almost every sector of the Australian economy.

Home Affairs secured the participation of twenty-five world-class business and human rights professionals to share their expertise across seven panels.

We had diplomatic representation from 15 countries across the Indo-Pacific region.

Deputy Secretary, Paul Grigson opened the conference and the Secretary delivered the keynote address, engaged with the audience and closed the event. 

The conference was an important step in the journey to improving the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of the global community, victims of modern slavery.

Should you wish to know more please engage with the Modern Slavery Business Engagement and Human Trafficking Branch at slavery.consultations@homeaffairs.gov.au. Thank you very much.