The Australian Government announced yesterday, as part of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19, its intention to create a Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people worldwide are subjected to modern slavery practices with 4,500 people currently trapped in some form of exploitation in Australia. Slavery includes human trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labour.
Accordin to The Hon Michael Keenan MP:
These are grave violations of human rights and serious crimes with devastating impacts. They have no place in our community or in the supply chains of our goods and services.”
The proposed reporting requirement will require large corporations and other entities (with an annual turnover of at least $100 million) operating in Australia to publish annual Modern Slavery Statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. The Statements will be published on company websites and in a publicly accessible central repository.
At this stage, however, punitive penalties for non-compliance are not being proposed. This means that public accountability and criticism is the only measure that will be used to ensure companies are not complicit in modern slavery practices.
How effective this approach will be remains to be seen.
The deadline for submissions is 20 October 2017 and can be found on the Attorney-General’s Department website.