In the Federal Budget 2018-2019 delivered on 8 May, the government announced that it will provide $3.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to establish an Anti-Slavery Unit within the Department of Home Affairs, to manage the implementation of a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement.

The government states that the measure will 'support businesses to mitigate this risk [ie the risk that modern slavery is occurring supply chains and business operations] and strengthen Australia's overall ability to combat modern slavery, including strengthening criminal justice outcomes and enhancing victim support'.

[Note: There is currently no modern slavery reporting requirement legislated, though the government released a proposed model for consultation in 2017. The proposed model was briefly outlined See Governance News 20/10/2017. Separately, The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade delivered its final report into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia in December 2017. Key report recommendations included the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act, the establishment of a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, mandatory supply chain reporting for some entities and the establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims. See: Governance News 08/12/2017]

Australian Centre to Counter Child exploitation: In a related measure, the government also said that it will provide $68.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to establish an Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.

More particularly, the funding will be used to create a 'hub of expertise' within the Australian Federal Police led Centre of Home Affairs portfolio agencies. Existing investigative, intelligence, forensic assessment and victim identification personnel resources will be increased by 50%.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) issued a statement on 10 May welcoming the move by the government to introduce a Modern Slavery Act. 'The government has taken a sensible approach, harnessing transparency to drive better practice and reveal which companies are working to maintain clean supply chains…We also commend the government for leading by example and extending the same reporting requirements to the federal government’s public procurement' said BCA CEO Jennifer Westacott.