Commonwealth Government releases scoping paper – a look into Government modern slavery reporting and actions to address key modern slavery risks
The Commonwealth Government has recently released a scoping paper setting out its approach to preparing its first modern slavery statement, which provides a “best practice” example for other reporting entities.
The Commonwealth Government is required to submit a modern slavery statement under the landmark Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Act) along with corporate Commonwealth entities and companies with a consolidated annual revenue of $100 million or more.
The Commonwealth Government’s first statement will cover the 2019-20 Australian financial year and must be published by 31 December 2020. Other reporting entities have been given a three-month extension due to COVID-19 (see our previous update here).
The scoping paper outlines the content of the Commonwealth Government’s first statement and explains the actions the Commonwealth is taking to address key modern slavery risks in its supply chains.
What Government entities are covered by the statement?
The Commonwealth Government is preparing a single statement covering all non‑corporate Commonwealth entities, which is being prepared by the Australian Border Force who is responsible for implementing the Act and leading the Government’s response to modern slavery.
Corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies with a consolidated annual revenue of $100 million or more must prepare separate modern slavery statements.
A list of non‑corporate Commonwealth entities, corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies is available at the Department of Finance website here.
Content of the Commonwealth’s statement
The scoping paper states that the Commonwealth’s statement will address key areas of modern slavery risk across the full range of Commonwealth Government procurement and investments – irrespective of the spend or length of the procurement or investment activity, which is a significant undertaking.
The statement will address the seven mandatory criteria under the Act at a whole-of-government level.
In relation to the risks of modern slavery practices in its operations and supply chains (mandatory criteria 3), the Commonwealth is taking a targeted, risk-based approach to assessing and addressing modern slavery risks in its supply chains, focusing on priority risk areas including textiles procurement, construction, cleaning services and investment activity.
The actions taken by the Commonwealth to assess and address modern slavery risks (mandatory criteria 4) are stated to include the development of training materials for Commonwealth officers, policy commitments and contract clauses, supplier engagement activities, and procedures to respond to, and remediate, allegations of modern slavery.
The Commonwealth recognises a “continuous improvement approach” to assessing the effectiveness of actions to assess and address modern slavery risks (mandatory criteria 5), with its first statement providing a “strong foundation for future action” which will be measured by a range of qualitative and quantitative indicators over time.
The Commonwealth Statement will also outline how COVID-19 has impacted the Government’s supply chains and response to modern slavery, in line with the Government’s recently released guidance on how to address the impacts of COVID-19 in their modern slavery statements (see our update here).
Best practice for NSW Government
Whilst the approach to Government reporting is slightly different under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (NSW Act), the Commonwealth’s scoping paper will provide useful guidance to the NSW Government on how to approach modern slavery reporting once the fate of the NSW Act is decided.
We are currently waiting on the NSW Government’s response to the parliamentary report on the NSW Act published on 25 March 2020 (Report), which we outlined here. The NSW Government is required to respond to the Report by 25 September 2020 and determine whether the NSW Act will commence with amendments on or before 1 January 2021, as recommended by the Report.
The scoping paper can be accessed here.
Authors: Scott Alden & Victoria Gordon
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The Australian Government has released a scoping paper on the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Statement.
The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Statement will report on modern slavery risks in the Government's procurement and investment activities and explain the steps taken to identify and respond to these risks (01 June 2020) https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/jasonwood/Pages/australian-government-world-leader-eradicating-modern-slavery.aspx
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Passed in Parliament , waiting assent, 03 June 2020
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The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.
Published by Scott Alden, Victoria Gordon