As foreshadowed in our previous article on modern slavery reporting, available here, the Federal Government has introduced the Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill 2023 (Bill) (which amends the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Act)) to establish a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
The Commissioner will have a range of functions including:
Importantly, the Commissioner will not have the power to investigate or resolve complaints concerning instances of modern slavery.
The appointment of a Commissioner aligns with the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020 – 25 issued by the Department of Home Affairs which set out key objectives in this area following a number of instances of modern slavery being reported in Australia.
In introducing the Bill, the Federal Government also highlighted its commitment to strengthening the Act including future implementation of review recommendations. Therefore, it is likely that we will see more robust reform in this area in future. While the Commissioner does not have enforcement powers at this stage, we consider this to be an area to watch.
Given the introduction of this legislation, employers should be mindful of compliance with the Act including reporting requirements and deadlines (more information is available here).
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Louise Rumble, Partner
Nakita Rose, Associate