Australia’s Modern Slavery Legislation

Australia has two key pieces of modern slavery legislation:

  • NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018

  • Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018

Both Acts are broadly based on the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Key aspects of the two Acts are summarised below.

NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018

The NSW Modern Slavery Act passed the NSW Parliament in June 2018 and focuses on businesses and government agencies operating within NSW. Key aspects of the Act are:

  • Creating of the role of a Modern Slavery Commissioner. This is currently held by an Interim Commissioner, Professor Jennifer Burn.

  • Requiring Modern Slavery Statements from businesses with annual revenue of between $50 million and $100 million.

  • Obligations on NSW Government agencies to ensure goods and services procured are ‘not the product of modern slavery’. This is a significant development as the government spends in excess of $30 billion annually on goods and services.

  • Creating Modern Slavery Risk Orders targeting people who are convicted of modern slavery and prohibiting them from engaging in conduct described in the order.

There is significant overlap and some key differences between the NSW and Commonwealth Acts. A comparison of the NSW, Commonwealth and UK Acts can be accessed here.

Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018

The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act came into force on 1 January 2019 and requires businesses (‘entities’) with annual consolidated revenue over $100 million to prepare Modern Slavery Statements. Businesses captured by the Commonwealth Act are not required to report under the NSW Act if the business is based in NSW.

Within 6 months of the end of their financial year, reporting entities must submit a Modern Slavery Statement to the Minister for Home Affairs with the following information:

  1. the identity of the reporting entity

  2. the structure, operations and supply chains of the reporting entity

  3. the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity, and any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls

  4. the actions taken by the reporting entity and any entity that the reporting entity owns or controls, to asses and address those risks

  5. how the reporting entity assesses the effectiveness of such actions

  6. the process of consultation with any entities the reporting entity owns or controls or is issuing a joint modern slavery statement with

  7. any other information that the reporting entity considers relevant.


What you need to know

We’ve included key reference materials relating to the NSW and Commonwealth modern slavery legislation below including:

  • Copies of the NSW and Commonwealth Acts (including links to their respective websites listing the legislation)

  • Draft Guidance for the preparation of Modern Slavery Statements (released by the Department of Home Affairs in April 2019)

  • SD Strategies 7-page Summary of the Draft Guidance and outline of how we can help you meet the reporting obligations.