Australia Makes Modern Slavery Legislation Official

Australia Makes Modern Slavery Legislation Official

After a November 29 vote, Australia has officially passed what is being heralded by many as the world’s strongest modern slavery transparency legislation.

The Australia Modern Slavery Bill, which applies to businesses with a turnover of more than 100 million Australian dollars ($73 million), is expected to bring 3,000 entities in scope.

The bill is generally regarded as more rigid than the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) because its scope includes government agencies and it introduces mandatory disclosure topics. In scope companies will be required to disclose on areas such as:

  • Their structure, operations, supply chains and modern slavery risks.
  • Actions taken by themselves, and any entities they own or control, to assess and address modern slavery risks, including due diligence and remediation processes.
  • Details of how they assess the effectiveness of those actions.

The bill was criticized by anti-trafficking advocates for a lack of penalties for non-compliance, and the absence of an independent anti-slavery commissioner or advisor. However, it does allow the Minister to question companies that fail to report. A last-minute amendment will require the government to evaluate applicable penalties three years after the laws come into place. The Minister will also be required to report annually on the bill’s progress.

Despite the lack of financial consequences for non-compliance, companies will face public scrutiny over disclosures. A publicly-accessible central database of entities and their statements will be created, and the Minister has the power to publish information about companies that do not comply with the Minister’s requests for information.

The UK MSA did not include a comparable public registry, though two databases (the TISC Report and the Modern Slavery Registry) have since been established by civil society.

In-scope companies will need to evaluate their modern slavery policies and due diligence activities as they prepare to report to the Australian government. In order to demonstrate that they are adequately assessing the risk of modern slavery, companies will need to collect and analyze their supply chain data.

Assent’s Corporate Social Responsibility Suite enables companies to automate supply chain communication, collect and manage data from a centralized location, and leverage advanced reporting capabilities to gain insight into supply chain risk.

To learn more about how Assent can assist companies with data management for modern slavery due diligence, contact