Modern slavery

Modern slavery is a serious crime, involving grave human rights impacts. Global estimates suggest there are up to 49.6 million people experiencing modern slavery, of which an estimated 17.3 million people are exploited in supply chains in the private economy. In Australia, over 1,900 people are victims of modern slavery, however, only 1 in 5 people experiencing modern slavery are identified.

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.

HealthShare Victoria (HSV) partners with Victoria's public health services and suppliers in delivering best-value health related goods and services. HSV supports health service with Modern Slavery reporting requirements. 

HSV has published a Modern Slavery Position Statement outlining our role in combatting modern slavery and a risk mitigation program to be implemented throughout 2023 and 2024.

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.

HSV's role

HealthShare Victoria (HSV) is an independent public sector commercially orientated provider of supply chain services that partners with Victoria’s public health services and suppliers in delivering best-value health related goods and services.

HSV upholds the Australian Government’s position on modern slavery. There is no place for modern slavery in the Australian community or in supply chains of Australian goods or services.

HSV is in a unique position to use our substantial leverage over the conduct of suppliers and market practices to drive positive change to address modern slavery risk in health service supply chains (i.e. HSV collective agreements) and provide leadership and guidance on reducing modern slavery risk, pursuant to HSV’s advisory and consultancy function under the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic).

HSV is committed to providing leadership to the healthcare sector through the introduction of a Modern Slavery Risk Mitigation Program

 

 

Health service reporting information

There are 26 Victorian mandated health services that meet the criteria of a ‘reporting entity’ under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) for the FY 2020-21 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 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 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 health service 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 2018 (Cth).

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

HSV provides leadership 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 in operationalising 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 that health services need to include to address the seven mandatory reporting criteria under the Act. The Guide also includes a temple statement.

 

Supplier Engagement Template

The Template is designed to foster collaboration between health services and their suppliers in identifying, assessing, and addressing modern slavery risks.

 

Health Services’ 2019-20 Statements Review

The Review highlighted good reporting practices and opportunities for enhancement to assist health services to meet their continuous improvement expectation under the Act.

 

Assessing modern slavery risk

HSV assessed 200 Collective Agreement suppliers to assist health services with their due diligence obligations under the Act.

 

Modern Slavery Community of Learning Program

The Program was re-modelled to ensure HSV’s consultancy and advisory functions directly align and respond to the needs of health services.

 

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 work program, HSV 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

HSV 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 HSV’s process, download HSV's Complaint Management Policy.

Further information

If you would like further information or support, the HSV 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: