14 October 2021
The NSW Parliament is being urged to restore supply chain transparency to the NSW Modern Slavery regime, following the NSW Government’s removal of any requirements for businesses to report on modern slavery risks.
1211 days after the Act was first passed, amendments introduced in the Upper House today remove modern slavery reporting requirements for businesses, which means no public registry, no transparency, and no modern slavery risk orders.
Some hard-fought measures advocated for by International Justice Mission (IJM) Australia and the NGO community are present in the amended legislation, including greater protection for children from forced marriage and online sexual exploitation and the provision of recognition payments for victims of modern slavery. However, it’s vital that reporting requirements are restored to ensure supply chain transparency.
The watered-down legislation comes more than three years after the original Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) was passed by the Parliament but never brought into force by the NSW Government.
With a recent report revealing almost half of all suppliers to Australian businesses analysed had a ‘high risk’ of modern slavery in their supply chains, and the Australian Institute of Criminology stating that there are up to 15,000 slavery victims in Australia, the need for a strong Modern Slavery Act could not be clearer.
IJM Australia CEO, Steve Baird, said the legislative changes are a disappointment to the most vulnerable people in our region and NSW should be leading the way on modern slavery.
“While there are some important elements included in the Government’s legislation, which we welcome and will make a difference, we need to see reporting requirements restored,” Mr Baird.
“Without reporting requirements, we are failing people being exploited by modern slavery and letting businesses using modern slavery off the hook.
“NSW has the opportunity to lead the country on this issue and it should be seizing that opportunity, not hiding behind the Commonwealth’s scheme.
“The NSW Government admits that modern slavery is prevalent, and said at the time of passing the original Act that it was a ’moral imperative’ to take action and now they are trying to back out of their promise.
“Every day governments stand idle, more than 40 million people – including 10 million children – around the globe are being exploited and suffering.
“We are urging Premier Perrottet to reflect on this amended legislation and give it back the teeth it needs to tackle the scourge of modern slavery.”
When passed, NSW’s Modern Slavery Act was one of the toughest in world. However, special interests have held it at bay for the past three years.
“This is not some far away issue, this is in our backyard,” said Mr Baird. “Businesses in Australia are profiting from modern slavery, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
MEDIA: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138
Header image: Markus Winkler.
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