Modern slavery risk and the health sector

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

Because modern slavery is wide-spread, with an estimated 40 million* people subjected throughout the world, this means there is a high risk that it is present in health service supply chains.

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (The Act) health services may be required to submit an annual Modern Slavery Statement to the Australian Government. This applies if you have annual consolidated revenue of at least AU$100 million. This is to ensure that suppliers you may be using, are not involved in modern slavery.

HSV will provide guidance and support to applicable mandated health services with this reporting requirement.

HSV's Modern Slavery Position Statement has details on our approach to modern slavery risk.

*United Nations and Walk Free Foundation

What is modern slavery?

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

The Act defines eight types of serious modern slavery. They are:

  • 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.

HSV's role supporting health services to report on modern slavery

HSV upholds the Australian Government’s position on modern slavery. HSV adopts a risk-based approach to helping to prevent modern slavery in health service supply chains.

HSV’s responsibilities include:

  • providing information and guidance on reducing modern slavery risk in health service supply chains, as part of HSV’s advisory and consultancy function under the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic).
  • assessing and addressing modern slavery risk in health service supply chains (HSV collective agreements), to assist mandated health services to prepare their annual Modern Slavery Statement.
  • addressing modern slavery in the Victorian healthcare sector - Modern Slavery Risk Mitigation Program.

HSV’s Modern Slavery Position Statement has details on our approach to modern slavery.

Health service reporting information

Victorian mandated health services that meet the criteria of a ‘reporting entity’ under the Act 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 FY (1 July-30 June)
Statement submission date

31 March 2021

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

31 December 2021 31 December each year

What mandated health services need to do

Health services required to comply with the reporting requirement must prepare an annual Modern Slavery Statement. The statement must:

  • explain what the health service is doing to assess and address the risk of modern slavery in its global and domestic supply chains
  • address seven mandatory criteria which 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.

The health service board must approve annual statements. A member of the board must sign statements before submission to the Australian Government. The Australian Government will publish statements on a central online register.

The consequence of non-compliance

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 or severe non-compliance the Australian Government may choose to publicly identify the non-compliant entity.

Support and guidance for health services

HSV provides support and guidance on reducing modern slavery risk in health service supply chains, in line with HSV’s advisory and consultancy function under the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic). 

Key resources and initiatives

Modern Slavery Toolkit

The toolkit contains six modern slavery resources to assist health services to operationalise the Act: factsheet; framework implementation plan; policy; risk assessment tool and supplier questionnaire; contract clauses; and risk register.


Modern Slavery Statement Guide

The guide details the content health services need to include to address the seven mandatory reporting criteria under the Act. The guide also includes template statements as examples.


Supplier Engagement Template

The template is designed to help health services work with their suppliers to identify, assess, and address modern slavery risks.


Health Services’ 2019-20 Statements Review

The review highlighted good reporting practices and information to help health services to meet their continuous improvement expectation under the Act.


Assessing modern slavery risk

HSV analyses health service spend data annually to identify collective agreement suppliers who must submit a Modern Slavery Risk Assessment to HSV. We then provide details to health services to support their obligations under the Act.


Modern Slavery Community of Learning Program

The program ensures HSV's consultancy and advisory functions respond to the needs of health services. It's also an opportunity to ask questions, share learnings and provide information and updates of value. If you are a health service staff member and wish to be included in these monthly sessions, please contact your Customer Relationship Manager.


How HSV supports suppliers address modern slavery risk

HSV 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, HSV will:

  • foster open and transparent supplier relationships which encourage 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 explains more about what suppliers must do.

How to report suspected modern slavery

HSV supports and encourages transparent reporting of suspected modern slavery practices in health service supply chains.

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

Further information about modern slavery risk

For more information or support, contact the HSV Modern Slavery team:

The Australian Government also provides guidance and support on modern slavery and the reporting requirement. To register for updates or make an enquiry, contact the Australian Border Force Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit at

Australian resources on modern slavery:

International resources on modern slavery: