Australian Govt. announces key features of company reporting requirement to be included in upcoming Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act

In May 2018 the Australian Government announced its intention to introduce legislation by mid 2018 to enact a Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act, which would include a company reporting requirement. Details from the Australian Government on the key features of this requirement and analysis of this are below.

Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australi

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Autor/in: Christopher Knaus, Guardian

"New law will force 3,000 big companies to show they are stamping out slavery", 11 May 2018

The federal government will force 3,000 big companies to explain how they are stamping out modern slavery, a move welcomed by anti-slavery campaigners.

But unions and Labor say the changes will be “inadequate and ineffective” without the creation of an independent anti-slavery commissioner or penalties for corporations that breach their new requirements...it announced...how it would create a new reporting regime designed to drive transparency among big businesses with a turnover of more than [AUD]$100m. The 3,000 companies will be forced to publish an annual modern slavery statement detailing their efforts to reduce modern slavery in their supply chains. The federal government will be forced to issue its own consolidated statement on modern slavery in its procurement.

The statements will be kept in a publicly-accessible central repository, and the regime will be overseen by a new unit in the home affairs department...

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The Australian Government will introduce legislation to Parliament by mid-2018 to enact a Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act (MSA). Following a consultation process, the Australian government has announced details of the reporting requirement to be included in the upcoming MSA. 

Key features of the reporting requirement will include:

  • Application to a broad range of entities to ensure a level playing field. This includes foreign entities carrying on a business in Australia.
  • Coverage of the Australian Government which will lead by example by publishing an annual consolidated statement covering Commonwealth procurement. Commonwealth corporations and Commonwealth companies not covered by the Commonwealth Procurement Rules will publish separate Modern Slavery Statements.
  • Reporting on all modern slavery practices criminalised under Commonwealth law, including slavery, trafficking in persons, servitude, forced labour and forced marriage.
  • A Government-run, public central repository to ensure all Modern Slavery Statements are easily accessible. Reporting entities will need to publish Modern Slavery Statements within six months from the end of their financial year.
  • Four mandatory reporting criteria to provide certainty for business and ensure high quality Modern Slavery Statements. These criteria will require reporting entities to provide information about: their structure, operations and supply chains; potential modern slavery risks; actions taken to address these risks; and how they assess the effectiveness of their actions.
  • A reporting threshold of $100 million annual consolidated revenue. This threshold will cover approximately 3,000 entities.
  • Support and assistance for reporting entities through a dedicated Business Engagement Unit in the Department of Home Affairs. The Unit will also promote best-practice, administer the central repository and undertake awareness raising and training.
  • Clear and comprehensive guidance for business about the reporting requirement and their obligations. Government will draft this guidance in consultation with business and civil society.
  • Commitment to a review of the reporting requirement and its effectiveness three years after it takes effect to ensure it remains appropriate for the Australian context.

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