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Modern Slavery Act Reforms Urgently Needed

Modern Slavery Act Reforms Urgently Needed

(26 May 2023 – Australia) A wide reaching review of Australia's Modern Slavery Act recommended a new mandatory due diligence process for reporting entities, penalties for companies that do not comply with the act and the establishment of a federal Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Tabled in Parliament by Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, the review was led by Professor John McMillan AO as a statutory analysis of the operation of the Act in its first three years.

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) established a Modern Slavery Working Group in 2020 which has explored how modern slavery exists in sectors in Australia and how banks can best assist law enforcement to put an end to the serious crimes while also releasing its “Working Paper: Modern Slavery Edition 1” with KPMG in 2022 as the first in a series that further explore sectors funded by Australian banks.

“At the core of modern slavery is a desire by one or more people to exploit the freedom of others for personal financial gain. There is no room for such abhorrent practices in our modern world” stated ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

The review was released alongside human rights organisation Walk Free issuing its latest Global Slavery Index, which found that 50 million people worldwide live in modern slavery, alarmingly rising by 10 million people since 2018.

While Walk Free noted that the United Kingdom, Australia and the Netherlands have the strongest government responses to modern slavery, the report also found that 41,000 people in Australia are experiencing  modern slavery.

"Modern slavery permeates every aspect of our society. It is woven through our clothes, lights up our electronics, and seasons our food. At its core, modern slavery is a manifestation of extreme inequality. It is a mirror held to power, reflecting who in any given society has it and who does not. Nowhere is this paradox more present than in our global economy through transnational supply chains” commented Walk Free Founding Director, Grace Forrest.

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