Government marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with landmark website to combat modern slavery

Modern slavery risks in Australian supply chains will be easier to identify with the launch of a new website on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

The Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements will act as a central website for statements from thousands of large businesses required to comply with the Government’s landmark
Modern Slavery Act 2018.​

“This is the world’s first, government-run website of its kind, and will provide Australian consumers, investors and civil society with an unprecedented window into the global supply chains that produce the goods and services we use every day,” Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Jason Wood MP said.

“This important initiative will galvanise efforts to clean up supply chains in Australia and around the world by significantly increasing supply chain transparency. From today, entities required to comply with the Modern Slavery Act can upload their statements directly to the website, where they will be freely accessible and searchable.”

Under the Modern Slavery Act, large entities in the Australian market with annual consolidated revenue of at least AU$100 million must produce annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery risks in their global operations and supply chains. The first statements will be published on the website from August 2020.

The launch of the website is complemented by a new toolkit of resources to support government procurement officers to respond to modern slavery risks in Government’s procurement activities.

“As Government, we are committed to leading by example in the fight against modern slavery. These resources provide practical anti-slavery tools for procurement officers, including an e-learning module, supplier questionnaire, tender guidance and a risk assessment tool,”Assistant Minister Wood said.

The Government’s launch of the online register was welcomed by business groups and the Law Council of Australia.

The Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott AO, said the establishment of a Modern Slavery Act was a critical step in ending the scourge of modern slavery.

“Business has led the way in combating modern slavery and we are proud to be a long-standing supporter of the Act. Greater transparency will drive even better standards and help put an end to this abhorrent practice,” Ms Westacott said The Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, Innes Willox, said all businesses need to be aware of the risk of modern slavery.

The risk of modern slavery in supply chains is a matter all businesses should be are aware of and take strong action against. There is no place for modern slavery in any community and it should be eradicated,” Mr Willox said.

The President of the Law Council of Australia, Pauline Wright, welcomed the launch of the register.

“The Law Council of Australia, as a strong and consistent advocate for a national Modern Slavery Act, welcomes this historic and world first government initiative by the Federal Government to establish a Modern Slavery report register which will be online and hence open and accessible to all citizens,” Ms Wright said.

Assistant Minister Wood said today’s announcements will further strengthen the Government’s strong, collaborative response to modern slavery.

“Modern slavery has no place in our communities or the supply chains of our goods and services and collaboration between Government, business and civil society is key to combating this crime. We consulted closely with business and civil society to develop the Modern Slavery Act and we continue to work proactively with business and civil society to implement the legislation, including through the Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group and the National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

Modern slavery is a term used to describe serious exploitation including human trafficking, servitude and forced labour. It does not include practices like substandard working conditions or underpayment of workers. The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates there are up to 1,900 victims of modern slavery in Australia. Globally, the United Nations estimates there are over 40 million modern slavery victims.

The Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements and toolkit are available at
https://modernslaveryregister.gov.au/

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