Modern Slavery Inquiry
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The modern slavery act

There are 40.3 million reasons why Australia must do more to end modern slavery.

What is the Modern Slavery Act?

The Modern Slavery Act, passed in 2018, establishes a requirement for large businesses operating in Australia to make annual reports on their actions to address modern slavery risks within their operations. The legislation is a first for the Asia-Pacific region, and only the second of its kind in the world. It is the culmination of a major campaign by Walk Free in partnership with government leaders, civil society, religious figures and business partners.

The requirements of the Act

The Modern Slavery Act holds companies with profits of over $100 million directly accountable for modern slavery risks within their supply chains, both domestically and internationally. In a world first, the Act also requires all large Commonwealth entities to report on their findings and gives the Minister explicit power to report publicly on compliance trends.

Why now?

Modern slavery is a global phenomenon and demands a global response. The Modern Slavery Act is a strong step towards eradicating modern slavery, reinforces Walk Free’s efforts to have all countries adopt appropriate modern slavery legislation and is a baseline for government policy developments in the future. As outlined in the fourth edition of the Global Slavery Index, Australia not only has modern slavery within its own borders, but as a country we import products that are of high risk of modern day slavery. The mandatory reporting requirements under the new legislation will drive greater transparency within company supply chains and operations.

Each individual, each business and each country must play its part in ending modern slavery.

Key dates

29 November 2018:

The Modern Slavery Bill became an Act of the Australian Parliament.

December 2018:

Home Affairs’ developed and detailed official guidance for the business community about the reporting requirement.

March 2020:

The first time entities will be required to report using data from 2019 reporting data.


The government will review the reporting requirement after three years to assess its effectiveness.

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