Australia’s Modern Slavery Act came into force on 1 January 20191..  This Act establishes a modern slavery reporting requirement.  Australian entities and foreign entities carrying on business in Australia are required to submit Modern Slavery Statements specifying the actions they have taken to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.  Statements must be provided for every twelve-month period that the reporting entity has annual revenue of at least AUS $100 million.

Modern Slavery Statements must also identify the reporting entity, describe consultation with related entities, be signed by a responsible member of the entity, approved by the principal governing body of the entity, and provided to the Minister of Home Affairs within six months from the end of the entity’s financial year.  For entities with financial years ending on 30 June, their first reporting period will be 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, with Statements to be submitted by 31 December 2020.

The Minister will publish statements online on a central register.  This register will be freely accessible to the public.

The Act is not punitive – it does not provide for any financial penalties for non-compliance.  It is considered that the threat of reputational damage alone will motivate reporting entities to comply.  However, the Minister can request a non-compliant entity to provide an explanation and undertake specified remedial action (in so far as non-compliance with the reporting requirement is concerned).  Further, the Minister is empowered to identify non-compliant entities.

For further information about the Act, the requirements of the Act and the steps that reporting entities should now take to position themselves to comply with the new laws, see our previous Client Alert.

1. In our previous Client Alert we reported that on 28 November 2018 the Modern Slavery Bill had been passed by the Senate.  The House of Representatives passed the Bill (as amended by the Senate) on 29 November 2018.  The Act received Royal Assent on 10 December 2018 and, on 13 December 2018, its operative provisions were proclaimed to commence on 1 January 2019.