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Changes to the NSW Modern Slavery Act: What Businesses Need to Know

Commercial Law

The Modern Slavery Amendment Act 2021 (NSW) entered into force on 1 January 2022. As a result, the only supply chain transparency regime currently in place in Australia is under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth), which is a Commonwealth legislation.

Section 5(1)(a) of the Commonwealth Act stipulates that an entity which has a consolidated revenue of at least $100,000,000.00 for the reporting period must report annually on the risk of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions taken to address those risks.

The remaining key features of the amended NSW Act include the establishment of an Anti-slavery Commissioner (Commissioner) and its functions, some of which include promoting public awareness of modern slavery and its effect on victims and encouraging reporting of instances of modern slavery.

Under the Commonwealth Act, businesses will need to prepare a statement that addresses seven (7) mandatory criteria contained in the Modern Slavery Regulation:

  1. Identify the reporting organisation.
  2. Describe the organisation’s structure, operations and supply chains.
  3. Describe the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting organisation and any organisations it owns or controls.
  4. Describe the actions taken by the organisation and any organisations it owns or controls to assess and address these risks, including due diligence and remediation processes.
  5. Describe how the reporting organisation assesses the effectiveness of these actions.
  6. Describe the process of consultation with any organisations the reporting organisation owns or controls (a joint statement must also describe the consultation with the organisations covered by the joint statement).
  7. Any other relevant information.

Once a reporting entity completes its modern slavery statement, the document needs to undergo various steps of approval and registration:

  1. Statement must be approved by the principal governing body of the organisation. This means that the statement must say it has been approved by the principal governing body, name that governing body, and specify the date that governing body approved the statement.
  2. Statement must be signed by a responsible member of the organisation;
  3. Statement must be made public by lodging the statement for publication on the online central register with the Australian Border Force (ABF). The statement will then be reviewed by the ABF prior to publication. This lodgement will need to be completed within six (6) months after the end of the entity’s reporting period. The statement may be submitted online via the following website: https://modernslaveryregister.gov.au/

Overall, the amendments to the NSW Modern Slavery Act may function as a catalyst for positive change and increased awareness of human rights issues surrounding supply chains of larger companies in Australia. As always, time will tell.

If you believe you are required to comply with the NSW legislation, please do not hesitate to contact Janelle Boutros, Senior Partner for further assistance.

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