Modern slavery is a global issue that must be stopped at all costs. It exploits human lives and weakens economies. It includes debt bondage, child labour, trafficking, deceptive recruiting, servitude, slavery, and forced marriage. Many nations across the globe have their own and international legislation in place to prevent and deal with modern slavery incidences.
For businesses operating in Australia, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Commonwealth Act) was commenced in 2018. It requires larger companies in Australia to follow certain standards for modern slavery reporting.
If you own a business in Australia, you have the responsibility of providing this information to your workforce and manage compliance with this act. We have listed a few things that need to be considered.
Some useful statistics
- Nearly 40 million people are enslaved globally
- Approximately 150 US$ per year is generated in the global private economy through forced labour
- Nearly 62% of all people enslaved are in the Asia-Pacific region
- Approximately 1,900 people are enslaved in Australia
- Only 1 in 5 modern slavery victims are detected in Australia
What Do Businesses in Australia Need to Know About Modern Slavery Act 2018
1. What is an Australian entity?
Broadly, an Australian entity is any company, trust, corporate, partnership, or other entity that is resident in Australia as per respective subsections and divisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and/or carries on business in Australia.
2. Who needs to report?
Australian entities or carrying on business in Australia having a minimum consolidated revenue of $100 million, need to report as per the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018.
However, the requirements keep changing as seen in the case of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) which was passed in the parliament in June 2018. There was an inquiry filed by the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues in 2019.
3. What does reporting require?
The reporting entities must perform risk assessments in their operations and supply chains and that of the other entities owned and/or controlled by them. The report is also supposed to include the steps taken to respond to the identified risks. The reporting criteria in Australia are mandatory.
4. What is the time limit for reporting?
Generally, the reporting entities are required to submit the modern slavery statement within 6 months after its financial year. They must also provide their approved modern slavery act statement on an online public register to the Australian Border Force for publication. The pandemic has also enabled many changes in the exact dates of the submission of reports. It is therefore advised to stay updated with current changes.
5. What must businesses do to ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2018?
All reporting entities must begin reviewing their operations and supply chains to comply with new obligations. The important tasks include:
- Design and implement an appropriate modern slavery management framework
- Assess the modern slavery risks in the business supply chain and operations
- Mitigate the identified modern slavery risks by adopting strategies
- Remediate by developing and implementing appropriate measures
- Monitor and review the effectiveness of modern slavery risk management framework, activities, and processes
- Report and establish an appropriate mechanism for both internal and external reporting.
The Modern Slavery Act 2018 was implemented to help businesses operating in Australia clearly define the behaviour and practices that constitute modern slavery, report it, and mitigate future risks. Companies are required to comply with this act and help society overcome human rights violations in the form of slavery. Sentrient’s modern slavery and human rights awareness course can help businesses spread more awareness in their workplace.
Contact us today to let us help you increase employee awareness to prevent modern slavery in your workplace or supply chain.