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 50 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'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 in supporting modern slavery risk mitigation

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.

HSV provides resources for health services and suppliers to support their commitment to the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) with the aim of reducing modern slavery risk in the health sector.

For health services

We provide guidance and support to applicable mandated health services on their modern slavery reporting requirements.

Our resources support health services to operationalise the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) and where applicable prepare their annual statements.

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 or email modernslavery@healthsharevic.org.au.

For suppliers

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 risk mitigation program, we 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.

For suppliers wanting to do business with the Victorian Government, the Victorian Supplier Code of Conduct further explains the expectations on reporting misconduct, unethical behaviour or suspected corruption.

We provide modern slavery supplier resources with the aim of reducing modern slavery risk in the health sector.

How to report instances of suspected modern slavery

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

If you or someone you know is a victim of slavery please reach out to one of the below organisations for help. In an emergency, or if a child is concerned, dial 000.

Australian Federal Police

Border Watch

Anti-Slavery Australia

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