The Federal Government has released a consultation paper that outlines the government’s proposal to create a Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. This will require large corporations and other entities operating in Australia to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address slavery.
Responding to exploitation in supply chains is a key focus of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19. Consistent with this focus, the National Roundtable established an expert Supply Chains Working Group to bring together relevant stakeholders from business, civil society and government agencies. This working group subsequently recommended that government introduce a modern slavery in supply chains reporting requirement.
The proposed reporting requirement will support the business community to respond more effectively to modern slavery. It will raise business awareness of this issue, create a level playing field for businesses to share information about what they are doing to eliminate modern slavery, and encourage businesses to use their market influence to improve workplace standards and practices. The proposed reporting requirement will also improve information available to consumers and investors about modern slavery.
The Attorney-General’s Department will lead a national consultation process to refine the Government’s proposed model. This consultation process will provide an important opportunity for the business community and civil society to help design a reporting requirement that is simple, sensible and as effective as possible. It will also ensure that the proposed reporting requirement reflects community expectations.
Consultation paper available now
The consultation paper outlines the Australian government’s proposed model for a Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. The proposed reporting requirement will require large corporations and other entities operating in Australia to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.
Key elements of the Government’s proposal include the following:
- The introduction of a requirement to produce an annual Modern Slavery Statement.
- The reporting requirement would be applicable to a range of entities:
- with a proposed revenue threshold no lower than $100 million total annual revenue, and
- headquartered in Australia or that have any part of their operations in Australia.
- Entities will be required to report on their actions to address modern slavery in both their operations and supply chains (including beyond first tier suppliers).
- Entities will be required to report, at a minimum, against four criteria (which cover the optional criteria set out in the UK Modern Slavery Act):
- the entity’s structure, its operations and its supply chains;
- the modern slavery risks present in the entity’s operations and supply chains;
- the entity’s policies and processes to address modern slavery in its operations and supply chains and their effectiveness (such as codes of conduct, supplier contract terms and training for staff), and
- the entity’s due diligence processes relating to modern slavery in its operations and supply chains and their effectiveness.
- Modern Slavery Statements would need to be approved at board level and be signed by a director.
- Entities would be required to publish their Modern Slavery Statement within five months after the end of the Australian financial year.
- Entities would be required to publish their Modern Slavery Statement on their websites, with the Government also proposing a publicly accessible central repository.
- Punitive penalties for non-compliance are not proposed but options for oversight are being considered.
- The Government will provide guidance and awareness-raising materials for business.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department will lead a national consultation process with business and civil society to refine the Government’s proposed model over August – December 2017.
Submissions for the consultation will close on 20 October 2017.
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