Australia Strengthens Modern Slavery Act
Australian companies will need to be aware of the upcoming changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and start getting ready for more scrutiny as part of their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.
The new rules will make it harder to get away with not following them, and companies will have to report on their due diligence processes and the steps they have taken to stop modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.
Companies should start reviewing their policies and procedures to ensure they are compliant with the new requirements and consider any potential risks of modern slavery in their supply chains. To be ready for more scrutiny, companies should also look at and improve their systems for tracking and reporting on their ESG performance.
The 2022 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, stated that close to 27 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery, with more than 15.1 million people in the Asia-Pacific region considered 'enslaved'. This means that people enslaved in Asia-Pacific account for nearly 55% of all enslaved people worldwide.
In August 2022, the Australian Government released an issue paper on the effectiveness of the Act for public consultation to review the existing legislation. The public debate closed in November 2022, and recommendations will be published in March 2023. The Albanese government has pledged that in 2023 it will significantly enhance the Act and meaningfully extend its reach to increase the transparency and accountability of companies and ensure that they are taking appropriate steps to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.
Some of the proposed changes include:
Introducing mandatory due diligence obligations, including supply chain certification.
Significantly lowering the reporting threshold (currently at Aus$100 million in annual consolidated revenue).
Expanding the basis of reporting.
Introducing financial penalties for non-compliance.
Defining the role, function, and powers of the proposed Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
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Source: Phuket News