The Australian Modern Slavery Act

The Australian Act is only the second piece of national legislation to directly hold companies accountable for modern slavery risks, both domestically and internationally.

It improves on the landmark UK 2015 Act by:

  • introducing mandated content for company reporting;
  • a publicly funded central repository for filing of annual statements;
  • in a world first, requiring all large Commonwealth entities to report;
  • envisages a list of approximately 3,000 companies required to report being released by Government; and
  • requiring an annual report on company compliance by Home Affairs Minister to Parliament.

The first company reports required under the Act are likely to be reporting on measures taken in the 2019-2020 financial year.

The Act will be formally reviewed after three years of operation where the record of company compliance will inform the contentious debate over whether penalties for non-reporting will need to be included in the legislation to ensure satisfactory compliance.

Walk Free congratulates the Australian Government for sponsoring the legislation and is grateful for the bipartisan support and strong engagement from many MPs and Senators.

The Australian Modern Slavery Act is the culmination of a major campaign by Walk Free in partnership with civil society, religious and business partners.

The Australian legislation will reinforce Walk Free efforts to have all countries adopt appropriate modern slavery legislation.

We will continue to employ the Bali Process Government and Business Forum to advance joint business and government initiatives to end modern slavery in the Indo Pacific region.