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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.

The Act also requires the Australian Government to publish an annual Modern Slavery Statement covering Commonwealth procurement and investment activities. This initiative highlights the Australian Government’s commitment to lead by example in the fight against modern slavery and will help to mitigate modern slavery risks in public procurement and investments.

Key resources

The Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit (the Unit) in the Australian Border Force (ABF) is responsible for driving effective implementation of the Act. The Unit’s role includes providing guidance and support to entities about compliance with the Reporting Requirement.

You can contact the Unit and register for email updates by emailing slavery.consultations@abf.gov.au.

The Unit has worked with businesses and civil society to develop the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities to comply with the Act.

Additional resources can be found below:

Application of the Modern Slavery Act to local government entities

The Act explicitly excludes state and territory governments from the Reporting Requirement. Consistent with this approach, local government entities will not be required to comply with the Reporting Requirement. This approach ensures that local government entities are treated in the same way as state and territory governments under the Act.

Local governments have an important role to play in combating modern slavery and this approach does not prevent local government entities from voluntarily complying with the Act should they wish to do so.

Single reporting periods for joint statements covering entities with different reporting periods

The Act allows an entity to submit a joint statement on behalf of one or more reporting entities (the submitting entity). The submitting entity may or may not be a reporting entity itself. In many cases, the submitting entity and all reporting entities covered by the joint statement will share a common reporting period, such as an Australian Financial Year. However, in some scenarios, the submitting entity and one or more of the reporting entities covered by the statement may not share a common reporting period. In this circumstance, the entities involved may select a single reporting period to be used for the purposes of the joint statement. This single reporting period does not have to align with an existing reporting period used by the entities, however it must not be later than the latest reporting period for any of the reporting entities covered by the statement or the operating financial year of the submitting entity if this entity is not a reporting entity.

Entities that change their reporting period in order to report through a joint statement will revert to their original individual reporting period if they decide not to participate in a subsequent joint statement. Entities must ensure that the first individual report following this change also includes action taken to assess and address modern slavery risks that occur during any gap in reporting that arises as a result of a change in the reporting period.

Voluntary modern slavery statements covering the 2019 calendar year

Entities that are not required to comply with the Act should consider whether they may be in a position to prepare a voluntary modern slavery statement. Although the 2019 calendar year is not a formal reporting period under the Act, entities that wish to provide a voluntary statement for the 2019 calendar year are permitted to do so. Voluntary statements submitted for the 2019 calendar year will be placed on the online register for modern slavery statements once it is operational. Entities may also wish to make their voluntary modern slavery statements available on their websites.

The guidance for reporting entities above explains how to prepare a voluntary statement.

Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group

On 4 December 2019, the Australian Government announced new initiatives to combat modern slavery, including the establishment of a Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group. The Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group will provide advice on key issues and strengthen business engagement to effectively implement the Act.

The ABF is now seeking nominations from business, academic and civil society experts to join the Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group. To submit your nomination, you will need to complete the Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group Nomination Form

Completed nominations must be emailed to slavery.consultations@abf.gov.au no later than 4 March 2020.