Why Business Organisations Should Take Action Against Modern Slavery

To address modern slavery practices, the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act (2018) was enacted on the 1st of January 2019.

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International Labour Organisation states that there are millions of people, across the globe, forced into slavery today. It violates a labourer’s basic human rights and self-dignity. Some examples of modern slavery include forced marriages, servitude, child labour, human trafficking, and debt bondage. These are considered serious crimes under Australian laws. 

To address the threats of such slavery practices, the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act (2018) was enacted on January 1, 2019. The Act requires business entities based or operating in Australia (with a consolidated revenue of $100 million and above) to submit an annual report known as a Modern Slavery Statement. The report must include the following: 

  • Reporting entity’s structure, operations, and supply chains. 
  • Identified modern slavery risks within its operations and supply chains. 
  • Consulting process with subsidiary entities when preparing a Modern Slavery Statement. 
  • Actions made to address risks and assess its effectiveness, including any remediation process and due diligence. 

The Statement must be reviewed and approved by the organisation’s board of directors (principal governing body). Once the Statement is signed, it should be submitted to the Australian Border Force or ABF, for publication on a central online register. The Act also mandates the national government to “lead by example” and publish its annual Statement. This covers the Commonwealth’s investment and procurement activities. 

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NSW Amendments to the Modern Slavery Act (2018) 

The NSW Government is the first State Government to secure approval to amend the Commonwealth’s Act (2018). Some of the amendments to the Act are: 

  • Dropping the requirement for commercial organisations to file annual modern slavery statements. 
  • State-owned corporations, which are not obliged to prepare statements, are required to voluntarily file a Modern Slavery Statement, in accordance with the Federal Act, and publish their statements online. 
  • State-owned corporations and companies, with an NSW Commissioner shareholder, are not required to comply with obligations placed on government agencies, as per the NSW Act. 
  • Provide details on the role of the Anti-Slavery Commission, as the NSW Government will be under the Commission’s scrutiny. 
  • Providing for recognition payments under the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013 (NSW) to eligible victims of acts of modern slavery. 

Business organisations with a consolidated revenue of at least $100 million must still comply with the Federal Act’s reporting requirements. State-owned entities are required to investigate their supply chains for modern slavery risks, as they are voluntarily required to file reports under the Federal Act. The NSW Act commenced on the 1st of January 2022. 

Note: Despite the effects of the COVD-19 pandemic, the ABF expects all business entities, and even the Commonwealth, to continue monitoring and assessing their operations against risks of modern slavery. 

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Taking Action Against Modern Slavery Makes Good Business Sense 

Business organisations in Australia were unaware of their exposure to the risks of modern slavery, especially through their supply chains. Modern slavery instances in the country are low. However, the statistic reflects the low-level awareness of actual instances of slavery (domestic and overseas). In fact, an estimated U.S $150 billion is generated from forced labour globally. 

Since modern slavery distorts the flow within the global market, taking action against it makes good business sense. Combatting slavery means protecting responsible entities against reputational and legal risks and their potential victims. United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights outlines the responsibility of business entities to respect human rights in their operations and supply chains. 

In addition to protecting an organisation’s reputation, addressing such slavery risks mean better access to financing opportunities, increasing investor confidence, and profit margins. As a result, socially-responsible businesses attract investors with deeper pockets and potential customers. 

How Becoming Sustainable Helps

A sustainable business organisation understands the importance of eliminating risks against moderns slavery. Focusing on ethical and socially-responsible procurement practices minimise a business’s environmental and social impact. 

Recently, Ecosave received a “Low” rating from the 2021 Local Government Procurement (LGP) Modern Slavery Risk survey. As an LGP-approved contractor, we are glad to receive a favourable rating. This makes Ecosave a socially aware and proactive organisation against modern slavery.  

Tip: Read Ecosave's statement on eliminating modern slavery.

As a company, Ecosave aims to maintain its goal to be environmentally and socially sustainable. Hence, we will continue to develop action plans to mitigate slavery risks, investigate both old and new suppliers for possible red flags, come up with continuous training/seminars of management and staff on how to address modern slavery, and formulate policies to ensure that our organisation isn’t knowingly contributing to the occurrence of slavery. 

Taking action against all forms of modern slavery is as important as meeting our sustainability and energy efficiency goals. So let’s not forget our corporate and social responsibility to protect everyone against any form of human rights violations. 

Connect with Ecosave for your Net Zero needs. Call us at 1300 55 77 64 to accelerate your sustainability journey today! 

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