The Australian Government has asked Professor John McMillan, AO, supported by the Attorney-General’s Department to undertake a statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 operation and compliance over the first three years since commencement. The review commenced on 31 March 2022 and is to be completed within one year, followed by a report to be tabled in Parliament.
The department released an issues paper on the effectiveness of the first three years of the Act and called for submissions from business, civil society, government, and other interested stakeholders. Human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery have no place in our society.
In our submission we recommend that the Australian Government commission an independent inquiry to assess the use of the powers of government and of government agencies in relation to immigration and employment and how these powers may be detrimental to the ability of a victim of modern slavery in Australia to report instances of modern slavery. The inquiry should examine instances where 'modern enslavement' has involved victims undertaking employee like activities (even whilst they may not hold a visa permitting such or any employment); and to formulate recommended next steps based on the findings. This inquiry should publicly and transparently report any findings and recommendations.
We also recommend that government should improve reporting compliance standards particularly relating to procurement, ensuring that businesses that have modern slavery reporting obligations and are tendering for a government contract, must affirm they have met those obligations and will continue to do so as a condition of any contract.
Most importantly, we recommend the introduction of an independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner with nominated functions to:
- coordinate research work across government and with industry with the aim to eliminate modern slavery in this country and in global supply chains;
- monitor and report publicly on the question whether the use and/or the apprehension of the potential for the use of the powers of government and of government agencies in relation to immigration and employment matters may be detrimental to the ability of a victim of modern slavery in this country to:
- report instances of modern slavery; and
- enforce employee like rights in this country where their 'modern enslavement' has involved them undertaking employee like activities (even whilst they may not hold a visa permitting such employment);
- collaborate with other agencies to increase outreach and information sharing; and
- publish an annual list of countries, regions, industries and products with a high risk of modern slavery; and
specifically report on modern slavery practices in Australia.
You can read the issues paper here.
 Pages 48-49 of the Issues Paper.
 we suggest a broader role than just monitoring and reporting on the operation of the Act's reporting requirement as is suggested on page 49 of the Issues Paper.