Australia’s Modern Slavery Bill passes into law

3 December 2018

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand welcomes the passage of the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill in the House of Representatives on 29 November 2018.

The legislation requires companies with revenue over $100 million to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations through an annually published mandatory reporting requirement. In a world first, the Commonwealth Government will also be mandated to report on risks of slavery in their supply chains.

Whilst the legislation does not include some of the amendments Good Shepherd has been calling for—including an independent statutory officer and more nuanced responses to forced marriage—Good Shepherd CEO Stella Avramopoulos welcomes the outcome.

“The Modern Slavery Act remains a monumental step in Australia’s commitment to ensuring Australia is free from slavery.

“This legislation comes as a result of years of advocacy and commitment by civil society organisations and individuals. It is also a demonstration of what we can achieve when governments and communities work together.”

The Global Slavery Index estimates there to be 40.3 million people living in slavery around the world, more than half of whom are in forced labour*. Australia’s Modern Slavery Act is an opportunity for the Australian business community to demonstrate global leadership in their commitment to ending slavery.

“Several countries with the highest numbers of people in modern slavery are known to provide low-cost labour that produces consumer goods for markets in Australia; now more than 3000 companies will investigate and report on risks of slavery in their supply chain and the actions they are taking to address it,” said Ms Avramopoulos.

Many of those forced into modern slavery are women and girls, who are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for labour, marriage or sexual exploitation. Good Shepherd’s international network provides services to support women and children who have been exploited in this way across multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

* Source: Walk Free Foundation, Global Slavery Index, (2018)

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