5 mins read

Australia’s First Federal Anti-Slavery Commissioner: A Landmark Step Forward

Misconceptions around modern slavery are widespread, with many often mistakenly associating it solely with third world countries. However, the reality is that modern slavery occurs when individuals are exploited by others for personal or commercial gain, regardless of their location.

In Australia alone, there are 41,000 people are victims of Modern Slavery – with only 1 in 5 victims being detected. Whether through deception, coercion or force, victims of modern slavery are robbed of their autonomy and freedom through sexual exploitation, forced labour, human trafficking, trafficking in children, low/no pay, excessive hours, forced marriage and unsafe workplaces.

Recognising the gravity of this issue, Australia has taken significant legislative steps to address it. Recently, the country reached a momentous milestone with the passing of the Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill 2023 through Parliament. This legislation establishes the first federal Anti-Slavery Commissioner as an independent statutory officeholder. This landmark legislation, underscores Australia’s unwavering commitment to combating modern slavery.

The Anti-Slavery Commissioner will work across Government, industry, and civil society to:

  • Support compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2018
  • Improve transparency in supply chains
  • Help fight modern slavery in Australia and abroad
  • Bring enhanced support to victims and survivors
  • Increase community awareness
  • Assist businesses in addressing modern slavery risks within their operations and supply chains
  • Shape the implementation of future modern slavery reforms (including those arising from the statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018)

To demonstrate the government’s belief in the importance of the Commissioner’s role, the Australian government has allocated $8 million to the 2023-24 budget over four years to support the Commissioner’s office. By providing the necessary resources, the government ensures that the Commissioner can effectively fulfil their mandate and make a tangible impact.

Key highlights of this initiative include:

  • Enhanced Support: The Commissioner will provide robust support to victims and survivors of modern slavery.
  • Community Awareness: Increased efforts to educate and inform the community about modern slavery.
  • Business Accountability: Helping businesses identify and mitigate the risks of modern slavery practices.

What Does This Mean for You?

This historic milestone represents a critical opportunity for organisations to ensure compliance with the new legislation and contribute to Australia’s movement towards eradicating modern slavery and promoting human rights. The Anti-Slavery Commissioner will play a pivotal role in guiding businesses through these changes, ensuring they meet new standards and regulations, and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.

At Intertek SAI Global, we partner with organisations at any stage of their modern slavery journey – whether you are just starting to understand your supply chain impacts, already have supply chain management policies and strategies in place or are exploring how to embed human rights due diligence across your organisation and supply chain.

With Professor John McMillan’s recent recommendations to amend the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018, it is crucial for businesses to stay informed and proactive. These amendments are expected to enhance reporting requirements, introduce penalties for non-compliance, and increase the focus on remediation efforts for victims.

It is now more important than ever for organisations to align their operations with the new legislative framework. This involves reviewing and updating current policies and procedures, conducting comprehensive risk assessments, and enhancing training and awareness programs for both employees and suppliers.

Leveraging Our Innovative Technology and Services

With a team of 3,000 auditors globally with deep audit expertise and by leveraging our innovative technology to streamline the process and visualise the outcome, we can help organisations with:

  • Developing and implementing a strategic plan to engage and encourage key internal stakeholders of their responsibilities to combat modern slavery
  • Centralising supply chain management, visualising results to gain insights to take targeted actions to minimise supply chain disruptions
  • Scaling supply chain compliance programs leveraging our vast network of auditors across over 100 countries
  • Educating and engaging your organisation on your commitment to improving and taking action against irresponsible and unethical behaviours in your supply chain

Our Audit solutions are designed to support the alignment with Modern Slavery Act requirements, helping businesses to identify, assess, and mitigate modern slavery risks. Our programmes and platforms offer comprehensive supply chain visibility and real-time data to drive informed decision-making and enhance compliance efforts.

As a large auditing firm that partners with customers to help them better understand the issues surrounding modern slavery, we are proud to witness the strong commitment to eradicating modern slavery demonstrated by the Australian government. This legislative progress is a significant step forward, and we are confident that together, we can foster a future where ethical practices and human dignity are at the forefront of business operations.

For more information, please reach out to our team at Intertek SAI Global or view our Modern Slavery Solutions page

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