Modern slavery

The Australian Government is taking a global leadership role in combating modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) established a national Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, which requires entities with an annual consolidated revenue of at least AU$100 million to submit an annual Modern Slavery Statement to the Australian Government.

HPV will champion and support the applicable mandated health service with this reporting requirement.

Surgical instrument manufacture in Pakistan

Surgical instrument manufacture in Pakistan, Swedwatch 2015, Healthier Procurement (Report #73)

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery describes situations where offenders use coercion, threats, or deception to exploit victims and undermine their freedom.

The United Nations and the Walk Free Foundation estimate there are approximately 40 million victims of modern slavery around the world.

The nature and extent of modern slavery means there is a high risk that it is present in health service supply chains.

The Modern Slavery Act defines modern slavery as including eight types of serious exploitation:

  • Trafficking in persons
  • Slavery
  • Servitude
  • Forced marriage
  • Forced labour
  • Debt bondage
  • Deceptive recruiting for labour or services
  • The worst forms of child labour

The worst forms of child labour means situations where children are subjected to slavery or similar practices, or engaged in hazardous work.

Modern slavery is only used to describe serious exploitation. It does not include practices like substandard working conditions or underpayment of workers. However, these practices are also illegal and harmful and may be present in some situations of modern slavery. These practices may also escalate into modern slavery if not addressed.

HPV's role

HPV upholds the Australian Government’s position on modern slavery. There is no place for modern slavery in the Australian community or in the global supply chains of Australian goods and services. HPV adopts a risk-based approach to combating modern slavery in health service supply chains.

HPV’s responsibilities include:

•       Providing leadership and guidance on reducing modern slavery risk in health service supply chains, pursuant to HPV’s advisory and consultancy function under the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic).

•       Assessing and addressing modern slavery risk in health service supply chains (i.e. HPV collective agreements), with a view to assisting mandated health services in preparing their annual Modern Slavery Statement.

HPV recognises its significant role in health service supply chains and the benefit of its actions for the broader sector.

Health service reporting information

There are 25 Victorian mandated health services that meet the criteria of a ‘reporting entity’ under the Modern Slavery Act for the FY 2019-20 reporting period. These health services are required to prepare and submit an annual Modern Slavery Statement to the Australian Government.

Health service reporting periods

  First year Second year Subsequent years
Applicable period FY 2019-20 FY 2020-21 Financial year (1 July-30 June)
Statement submission date

31 March 2021

The Australian Government has
provided all reporting entities
an extension in response to
the COVID-19 pandemic.

31 December 2021 31 December each year

Over the first reporting period, the Australian Government is focused on working with reporting entities to ensure they understand their obligations under the Modern Slavery Act.

HPV will provide significant assistance to support reporting health services with meeting their reporting requirement.  

What do I need to do?

Health services required to comply with the reporting requirement must prepare an annual Modern Slavery Statement which explains what the organisation is doing to assess and address the risk that modern slavery practices may be occurring in its global and domestic supply chains.

A Statement must address seven mandatory criteria which combined require ongoing assessment, monitoring and remediation of modern slavery risk.

The seven mandatory criteria require every Statement to:

  • Identify the reporting entity.
  • Describe the reporting entity’s structure, operations and supply chains.
  • Describe the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity, and any entities it owns or controls.
  • Describe the actions taken by the reporting entity, and any entities it owns or controls, to assess and address these risks, including due diligence and remediation processes.
  • Describe how the reporting entity assesses the effectiveness of these actions.
  • Describe the process of consultation with any entities the reporting entity owns or controls.
  • Provide any other relevant information.

An annual Statement must be approved by the health service Board and signed by a member before submission to the Australian Government. The Statement will be published on a central online register by the Australian Government.

What is the consequence of non-compliance?

The consequence for non-compliance is potentially reputational. There are no criminal or administrative penalties for failing to comply with the reporting requirement under the Modern Slavery Act.

Where instances of non-compliance are identified, the Australian Government will seek to engage with non-compliant entities to support them to comply. However, in cases of deliberate and/or severe non-compliance the Australian Government may choose to publicly identify the non-compliant entity.

Support and guidance for health services

The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities (2MB PDF) provides detailed advice on modern slavery and the process for preparing and submitting the Modern Slavery Statement. HPV strongly recommends that reporting health services review this information. Through this guidance material, the Australian Government recognises that reducing modern slavery risk will be a continuous journey of improvement.

HPV has adjusted its program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and health service capacity at this critical time. HPV has been focused on embedding an internal modern slavery governance framework which will support health services in preparing their first Statement and provide the foundation for the sector’s position.

We recognise that health services are likely to rely on HPV for the substance of their first Statement given current resourcing constraints. HPV will provide detailed advice to support the drafting of this Statement.

Before the end of the 2019-20 financial year, and before the first reporting period concludes, HPV will seek to deliver the following:

  • HPV's modern slavery governance framework.
  • Commencement of direct engagement activities, pending health service capacity.
  • Publication of a health service resource toolkit, which will include tailored tools and templates.
  • Appointment of a software vendor to support due diligence, supplier engagement and risk assessment. The software will be the vehicle for addressing several mandatory criteria required to prepare the Statement.

HPV will undertake other supporting activities in accordance with its modern slavery work program.

Suppliers

HPV recognises that suppliers play a vital role in assessing and addressing the risk of modern slavery in Victoria's health service supply chains.

Through its modern slavery work program, HPV will:

  • Foster open and transparent supplier relationships which encourages modern slavery reporting and meaningful change.
  • Conduct due diligence on modern slavery risk as part of its Invitation to Supply (ITS) process.
  • Clearly communicate its position on modern slavery through measured contractual obligations.
  • Improve supplier awareness of modern slavery risks through awareness-raising and training.

The Victorian Supplier Code of Conduct reinforces the Australian Government’s position on modern slavery. 

Reporting suspected modern slavery

HPV supports and encourages transparent reporting of suspected modern slavery practice(s) in health service supply chains.

For details on how to make a complaint and HPV’s process, download HPV's Complaint Management Policy.

Further information and frequently-asked questions

If you would like further information or support, the HPV Modern Slavery team can be contacted at:

The Australian Government also provides guidance and support on modern slavery and the reporting requirement. To register for updates or make an enquiry, the Australian Border Force Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit can be contacted at slavery.consultations@abf.gov.au.

Helpful Australian resources:

International resources: