Australia: The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill: What are the key requirements?

On 28 November 2018, the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (Commonwealth Bill) was passed by Federal Parliament.

While the Commonwealth Bill requires organisations to take a range of steps from a compliance perspective, it also provides an opportunity for organisations more broadly to consider their approach to—and structures and processes for—identifying and minimising the risks of slavery and labour exploitation within their supply chains.

Key requirements under the Commonwealth Bill

The reporting requirements under the Commonwealth Bill will commence within six months of it receiving assent by the Governor-General and becoming an Act of Parliament. This is anticipated to occur by the end of 2018.

The Commonwealth Bill requires the following entities with revenue over $100 million per financial year to provide a ‘modern slavery statement’ to the Minister for Home Affairs (Minister) within six months of the end of each financial year:

  • companies that are Australian residents;
  • trusts, where the trust entity is a resident trust estate;
  • corporate limited partnerships that are Australian residents; and
  • other partnerships or entities that are either:
    • formed or incorporated within Australia; or
    • the central management or control of the entity is in Australia.

The Minister will maintain an online, public register of these statements.

The Commonwealth Bill requires that the modern slavery statement describe:

  • the entity’s structure, operations and supply chains;
  • the risks of modern slavery practices in the entity’s operations and supply chains, and those of any entities that the reporting entity owns or controls;
  • the actions taken by the reporting entity (and any entity that the reporting entity owns or controls) to assess and address those risks, including due diligence and remediation processes;
  • the effectiveness of the actions taken;
  • the consultation process with other entities that the reporting entity owns or controls; and
  • any other relevant information.

The statement must be approved by the principal governing body of the entity (i.e. a company’s board of directors) and signed by a responsible member of the entity.

A ‘joint modern slavery statement’ may be prepared that reports on a number of entities.

Approval for the joint modern slavery statement must be given by the principal governing body of either:

  • each reporting entity covered by the statement;
  • an entity (higher entity) which is in a position to influence or control each reporting entity covered by the statement, whether or not the higher entity is itself covered by the statement; or
  • if it is not practicable to comply with either of the above points, at least one reporting entity covered by the statement.

Non-compliance with the Commonwealth Bill

Under the Commonwealth Bill, the Minister may request an explanation for an entity’s failure to provide a modern slavery statement and/or request that the entity undertake remedial action, including to provide a modern slavery statement.

If the Minister’s request is not complied with, the Minister may publish information about the non-complying entity on the Modern Slavery Statements Register, or in any other way considered appropriate.

By contrast, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW Act), which passed through NSW Parliament earlier this year, contains a $1.1 million penalty provision for various non-compliance. This creates the striking situation where entities covered by the NSW Act, but not the Commonwealth Bill (i.e. those with a NSW presence and a turnover between $50m and $100m) are subject to penalties, but entities with a turnover of $100m or more are not.

Next steps

Commercial organisations should start preparing now to ensure they comply with the new requirements.

Further, while the due diligence required to enable accurate and reliable reporting in a modern slavery statement will identify potential or actual modern slavery risks, businesses will be required to assess, prevent and mitigate identified exploitative activities and ensure grievance mechanisms and access to remedy is in place.

It is expected that most businesses who will be affected by the Act will find modern slavery in their supply chains. Addressing these potential and actual adverse impacts is the pressing challenge.

In order to address this, the following steps should be considered:

  1. Identify someone to be responsible for leading the process and establish a cross functional team including the corporate social responsibility, operations management, procurement/supply chain management or human resources teams.
  2. Map the structure, operations and supply chain of your organisation.
  3. Develop a modern slavery policy and ensure existing policies (procurement, recruitment, risk management etc.) are consistent.
  4. Notify suppliers of the reporting requirements and the steps your organisation will be taking to conduct due diligence and consider implementing new contractual requirements.
  5. Implement a due diligence process that investigates and monitors modern slavery within the organisation and its supply chains.
  6. Assess and manage any identified risks and, where necessary, provide grievance mechanisms and access to remedy.
  7. Train employees and key or high risk suppliers on modern slavery.
  8. Determine an approach to addressing modern slavery obligations in supplier contracts.
  9. Design a monitoring framework to assess effectiveness.
  10. Allocate resources to fund the above steps.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions