It’s back, but now it will likely not apply to you. In 2018 the NSW parliament passed NSW’s Modern Slavery Act, a highly progressive piece of legislation whose commencement date was deferred as it bounced from parliamentary enquiry to committee review. The parliament was trying to figure out how to make it work with the Cth modern slavery legislation which we wrote about hereherehere and here (phew). 

The NSW act is now back in parliament, but with some massive changes. Its proposed start date is January 2022.

Reporting obligations

  • Previously, organisations with an annual turnover of more than $50 million (1/2 the threshold of the Cth act) had to report annually on modern slavery.  We’ve been waiting to see what reporting requirements were kept but commercial entities have been deleted.  Yep, entirely! So now, unless you are a commercial entity captured by the Cth act (see here) you don’t have modern slavery reporting obligations, although you can certainly opt in to reporting.  
  • The definition of government agency has been narrowed significantly.  State owned companies and corporations act companies that have a government minister as a shareholder have been removed, so these entities aren’t required to report either.

Anti-slavery commissioner’s powers:

  • The powers and functions of the anti-slavery commissioner (a position created under the act) have been fleshed out.  Along with advocating for and investigating modern slavery, the anti-slavery commissioner can compel organisations to work with him/her.  
  • The anti-slavery commissioner and police commissioner are more easily able to share information with each other and their departments regarding modern slavery and victims of modern slavery.

No liability

  • Protections have been granted to individuals complying with the act.  Individuals will have no civil or criminal liability where they comply with a requirement under the act in good faith, provide information on modern slavery to the commissioner (including if that could be defamatory) or act at the anti-slavery commissioner’s direction.

Recognition payments

  • Payments to certain victims of modern slavery were contemplated, but have been more expressly set out.

Government agencies need to report, but all requirements will trickle through supply chains. If you provide goods or services to, or that end up with, a government agency, expect to see supply chain and modern slavery questions, contract clauses and more coming your way.