New Modern Slavery Laws Commence in NSW


This article applies to government agencies in New South Wales.

Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW)

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) (the Act) commenced on 1 January 2022 and will supplement the Commonwealth modern slavery scheme under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (the Commonwealth Act).

Background

Subscribers should note that before the commencement of the Act, the Modern Slavery Amendment Act 2021 (NSW) came into operation on 29 November 2021, repealing proposed provisions of the Act which required companies to prepare modern slavery statements under a parallel supply chain reporting scheme to the scheme provided for under the Commonwealth Act.  This obligation was removed to reduce the regulatory burden on the New South Wales private sector and businesses of complying with two schemes.  The relevant provisions remaining under the Act are outlined below.

Co-operation between the Commissioner and NSW agencies

Under section 9 of the Act, government agencies of the State and persons and bodies that provide services to, or advocate for, victims of modern slavery in the State are required to work in co-operation with the Commissioner in the exercise of the Commissioner’s functions.  The duty to co-operate includes the following duties:

  • the duty to disclose information that is likely to be of assistance to the Commissioner or an agency in the exercise of functions imposed on the Commissioner or agency with respect to modern slavery and victims of modern slavery;
  • the duty to provide reasonable assistance and support to the Commissioner or an agency in connection with the exercise by the Commissioner or an agency of functions with respect to modern slavery and victims of modern slavery.

The functions of the Commissioner are:

  • to advocate for and promote action to combat modern slavery;
  • to identify and provide assistance and support for victims of modern slavery;
  • to make recommendations and provide information, advice, education and training about action to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute offences involving modern slavery;
  • to co-operate with or work jointly with persons and organisations to combat modern slavery and provide assistance and support to victims of modern slavery;
  • to monitor reporting concerning risks of modern slavery occurring in supply chains of government agencies;
  • to monitor the effectiveness of legislation and governmental policies and action in combating modern slavery;
  • to raise community awareness of modern slavery;
  • to exercise such other functions as are conferred or imposed on the Commissioner by or under this or any other Act.

It is important to note that information must be provided in accordance with this section despite the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) but only to the extent that it is relevant to the exercise of a function of the Commissioner under the Act.

Government agency means any of the following:

  • a government sector agency (within the meaning of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (NSW));
  • a NSW Government agency;
  • a council, county council or joint organisation within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW);
  • any other public or local authority that is constituted by or under an Act or that exercises public functions;
  • any public or local authority that is constituted by an Act of another jurisdiction that exercises public functions.

Modern slavery includes the following:

  • any conduct (or attempted conduct) constituting a modern slavery offence (described in Schedule 2 of the Act);
  • any conduct involving the use of any form of slavery, servitude or forced labour to exploit children or other persons taking place in the supply chain of organisations.

Annual reports for GSF agencies

Finally, section 31 of the Act requires the annual reporting information for a GSF agency under the Government Sector Finance Act 2018 (NSW) to include the following matters:

  • a statement of the action taken by the agency in relation to any issue raised by the Antislavery Commissioner during the financial year then ended concerning the operations of the agency and identified by the Commissioner as being a significant issue;
  • a statement of steps taken to ensure that goods and services procured by and for the agency during the financial year then ended were not the product of modern slavery within the meaning of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW).

Conclusion

Organisations that are government agencies in New South Wales should update their policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with the new modern slavery requirements under the Act.


Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au