NSW government agencies and the impact of the Modern Slavery Act

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Publication June 2018

The NSW parliament yesterday passed the Modern Slavery Act.  As well as requiring corporate entities to report, the Act will have a significant impact on NSW government agencies:

• It imposes an obligation upon agencies to take reasonable steps to ensure that goods and services procured by and for the agency are not the product of modern slavery.

• It entitles the Auditor General to conduct Modern Slavery Audits.

• It creates an Anti-slavery Commissioner for NSW.

• The Commissioner is to regularly consult with the Auditor-General and the NSW Procurement Board to monitor the effectiveness of due diligence procedures within government agencies.

• The Commissioner is also required to report to Parliament on the extent to which the government of NSW has provided mandatory training on modern slavery to the public, front-line government agencies and workers in non-government agencies each financial year.

• It amends the Public Works and Procurement Act to provide that it is one of the objectives of the Board to ensure that goods and services procured by and for government agencies are not the product of modern slavery.

• It provides that Annual reports of Departments and Statutory Bodies are to describe actions taken in response to an issue raised by the Commissioner and steps taken to ensure that goods and services procured by and for the agency are not the product of modern slavery.

• It provides that the Commissioner is to keep a public register that identifies any government agency failing to comply with directions of the NSW Procurement Board to ensure that goods and services procured by and for the agency are not the product of modern slavery and whether the agency has taken steps to ensure future compliance.

• The Act also imposes additional requirements on specialist agencies such as the Department of Family and Community Services.

The definition of ‘government agency’ is broad, meaning the Act will extend to independent statutory bodies, state corporations and local councils.

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