Thursday, 31 March 2022
Media release

Government launches review of landmark Modern Slavery Act

The Australian Government today took a key step towards further strengthening the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (the Act) by announcing a statutory review of the landmark legislation.

The review will consider the operation of the Act over its first three years and whether further measures to improve the Act and improve compliance are necessary.

Professor John McMillan, AO, will lead the review, which will be completed within 12 months before a final report is tabled in Parliament.

Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Jason Wood MP, said Australia has set the benchmark internationally for transparency frameworks of this kind.

“This review provides an opportunity to further improve this landmark piece of legislation,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“We are committed to undertaking a review that is open, transparent, and inclusive of the community’s views, and will be seeking input from a wide range of interested stakeholders.

“I warmly welcome the engagement of Professor McMillan, AO. As a distinguished academic, former Commonwealth Ombudsman and Australian Information Commissioner, he brings a wealth of experience to lead this review.”

The Australian Border Force will support Professor McMillan, AO, throughout the review process.

The Act came into effect on 1 January 2019 and requires businesses operating in Australia with an annual consolidated revenue of at least $100 million AUD, and the Australian Government to identify and address modern slavery risks in their global supply chains and operations.

Reporting entities are required to submit annual modern slavery statements, which are published on the Modern Slavery Statements Register.

“The Government’s Online Register for Modern Slavery Statements is the first government-run register of its kind in the world. It has published more than 4,000 entity statements covering the activities of more than 8,000 reporting entities,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

An Issues Paper for public consultation will be developed and is anticipated to be publicly released from mid-2022 on the Home Affairs website.

The review will be conducted in accordance with Section 24 of the Act, and supports the implementation of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025 (National Action Plan), in which the Government committed to undertake a review of the Act in 2022.

Under the National Action Plan grant program, the Government has already awarded a record total of more than $1.67 million in grant funding to seven organisations working to combat modern slavery in Australia.

This is part of the $4.4 million allocated over five years for multi-year grant funding opportunities for civil society organisations (NGOs), business and academia to deliver projects to combat modern slavery in Australia.

Further information about the review, including the Terms of Reference may be found here: Review of the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 (homeaffairs.gov.au)