A Modern Slavery Act (MSA) was passed through Government for NSW and the Commonwealth. So 2018 will go down in history as the year Australia took a stand against slavery. These Modern Slavery Acts will impact how we do business in Australia.

1. The National Modern Slavery Bill

This Modern Slavery Bill passed the Senate and the House of Representatives a few weeks ago:

‘This Act requires entities based, or operating, in Australia, which have an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks.’

Other entities based, or operating, in Australia may report voluntarily. The Freedom Hub Modern Slavery Workshops train and encourages all businesses to do this and align with the ethical value of human rights.

The Commonwealth is required to report on behalf of non‑corporate Commonwealth entities, and the reporting requirements also apply to Commonwealth corporate entities and companies with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million.

Reports are kept by the Minister in a public repository known as the Modern Slavery Statements Register. Statements on the register may be accessed by the public, free of charge, on the internet.

2. NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018 New South Wales

This is the first Australian jurisdiction to pass legislation on modern slavery. In June 2018, Parliament enacted the Modern Slavery Act 2018 of New South Wales (MSA). The act defines modern-day slavery as “any conduct involving the use of any form of slavery, servitude or forced labour to exploit children or other persons taking place in the supply chains of government agencies or non-government agencies.” In addition to defining modern slavery, the legislation establishes an annual reporting requirement for entities to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains in a form of a statement.

The MSA calls for commercial organisations, who supply goods and services for profit or gain, and with annual turnovers of $50million or more, to publicly publish a MSA statement within five months of the end of each fiscal year.

The MSA NSW Statement Requirements
The required statement, must outline the steps businesses take to ensure that the process of procuring goods and services during the financial year do not involve modern slavery. The statement must contain information required by the Regulations, not yet released. However, the regulations may require that the statement include information on the following:
(a) the organisations’ structure, its business and its supply chains
(b) due diligence procedures and training practices in relation to modern slavery
(c) transparency when it comes to the identification of any areas ‘at risk’ of modern slavery occurring within the organisation itself and its supply chains, and how those areas are assessed and managed

The MSA also put in place sanctions for entities that do not comply with its requirements. Furthermore, it allows the Regulations to create offences punishable, through penalties not exceeding 50 units.
The MSA penalties include:
(a) 10,000 penalty units maximum – or the equivalent of $1.1million for failure to prepare or publish a statement, or for providing false or misleading information.

What’s Next?

Interested in getting more information or support and training for your company? Not sure whether it applies to your business? The Freedom Hub is now providing training and support to ensure compliance of your business by the due date. Contact us at [email protected]. If you would like to attend one of our Modern Slavery Workshops find out more here.