The Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018

April 19, 2022 by Lucia (Yubin) Kim

What is it?

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 commenced operation on 1 January 2019. This Act requires larger entities in Australia or businesses in Australia with a minimum annual consolidated revenue of $100 million to report voluntarily under the Commonwealth Act. The Commonwealth Government is also required to report on behalf of non-corporate Commonwealth entities and publish its own annual modern slavery statement, which may be relevant for suppliers to the government.

This Modern Slavery Act 2018 aims to have the Australian entities join the international effort to eliminate modern slavery by managing and reporting on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. This also helps businesses protect themselves from serious legal, reputational, operational, and financial risks of being connected with modern slavery.

How it affects children

The Act defines modern slavery as including eight types of severe exploitation: trafficking in persons, slavery, servitude, forced marriage, forced labour, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting for labour or services, and the worst forms of child labour. The worst forms of child labour refer to extreme forms of child labour that involve the serious exploitation of children, including through enslavement or exposure to dangerous work.

Child labour often occurs due to a lack of awareness and ignorance of risks, which is why raising awareness on the issue of child labour, slavery, and trafficking is critical. Thereby, publishing the Modern Slavery act 2018 allowed more businesses and people to acknowledge child labour issues and participate in a child labour free society.

Ending child labour is critical to the suitable growth, development, and technological advancement of countries that we rely on to produce materials, goods, and services that we buy. As World Vision highlighted, children and youth are the most important factor in our future in order to create bigger markets for our own goods and services increasing economic property in other countries.

How it affects workers


  • Worker cannot refuse or cease work because of coercion, threat or deception

  • Worker may also be deprived of personal freedom


  • Worker can refuse or cease work but doing so may lead to a detriment

  • Worker is not paid fairly and does not receive some or all entitlements

  • Worker may be required to work excessive hours

  • Workplace is unsafe


  • Worker’s rights respected

  • Worker free to refuse or cease work

  • Worker paid fairly (at least minimum wage)

  • Workplace is safe

[‘Modern Slavery Act 2018 – A practical guidebook’, Deloitte]

As demonstrated in the diagram above, Modern Slavery happens at the most end of a spectrum that ranges from decent work to severe criminal exploitation. The Act defines modern slavery as including eight types of serious exploitation, including trafficking in persons, slavery, and forced labour. Modern slavery is characterised by extreme working conditions such as low or no pay, no recreation days, and excessively long hours. Modern slavery is common among migrant workers and young individuals in construction, agriculture, hospitality, and domestic services. This can be highlighted through a 2018 report that 0.6 persons in Australia per 1,000 of Australia’s population were subject to modern slavery. In response to this situation, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 aims to prevent modern slavery and build a stronger understanding of the modern slavery of workers and labourers.

By applying the Modern Slavery Act 2018, business owners have an obligation to ensure their supply chains do not engage in any forms of modern slavery. For an effective response to modern slavery, the companies must clearly define roles and responsibilities for their employees and prepare a budget. Moreover, entities must decide their levels of ambition and what they want to achieve in the short, medium and long term. With the globalisation of modern supply chains, ensuring modern slavery is not part of your business can increase the alignment of firms with the Modern Slavery Act 2018 whilst widening awareness of forced labour. Thereby carrying out an essential and effective way that entities can support human rights and the movement to eradicate modern slavery.

Why are women and children more vulnerable to modern slavery?

Although modern slavery affects everyone, it is an inevitable truth that children and women are more vulnerable to modern slavery. According to figures released by UNICEF and ILO in 2021, almost 80 million children aged 5 to 17 are subjected to hazardous work, which is classified as a contemporary form of slavery. Moreover, globally, 71% of enslaved people are identified as women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%.

Then why is this the case? The United Nations states that “high levels of exploitation also prevail in global supply chains, which often rely on and reinforce labour exploitation and deepen gender inequality”. The experts argue that “gender inequalities lie at the heart of contemporary forms of slavery”; however, these practices are also formed by discrimination, such as age, disability, migration status, race, etc. Hence, there is a need to establish safe migration pathways and easier access to a decent career to prevent the development of slavery.

Moreover, children are also subjected to modern slavery. Children, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, are more vulnerable to slavery as they can be more easily manipulated or tricked than adults. Research from the UN demonstrated that many children trapped in modern slavery engage in the worst forms of child labour. This includes the forced recruitment of youngsters into armed and criminal groups. In countries such as Burkina Faso, children work in artisanal gold mining and quarrying, where they are exposed to chemical contaminants and unsanitary conditions.

Although many countries are committed to tackling the issue of slavery, Modern slavery still thrives globally today. Hence, we need to work together to raise awareness of modern slavery. The more people who understand what slavery is and how to spot the signs, the more survivors we can identify and support in their freedom.

The dreaming freedom project of and her xPropelr project

About Tammy Ari

Tammy Ari is a genre-defying composer, songwriter-producer, and innovator who has splashed notes against a broad spectrum of motion picture mediums, artist records, and brands. While music is her passion, seeing creatively harnessed for social impact is her life’s mission. Her ethos is that all of us humans possess a weapon of creativity in our toolkit. It can be propelled to tell stories, shatter boundaries, and ultimately create better.

Tammy’s engagement in social impact

In parallel, Tammy has always been drawn to visualising concepts where innovation and creativity are leveraged for social impact. At the age of 19, she founded ‘The Rhythm Project’, which brought together young creatives to harness their musical talent to raise awareness and funds for World Vision projects. In more recent years, Tammy engaged more in learning about the issue of modern slavery. Her growing passion for making her small part in this issue led her to take her role of Chief Support Officer for Hager Australia in 2019. In 2021, her participation in social impact projects was manifested through Veirtu & xPropelr. She hopes to see the creative economy leveraged for social impact through her continuous involvement in social change.

About xPropelr

xPropelr was founded in 2021 by Tammy Ari with her belief that “we can harness the creative economy for social impact”. xPropelr is an Australian Public Company and registered Charity with the Australian Charities and Non-for-profits Commissions (ACNC). The mission of xPropelr is to propel creatives to defy the cycle of injustice, globally connecting and mobilising creatives from multiple spaces, including music, art, dance, fashion design, film and more, to release creative output that raises awareness and funds to break the momentum of modern slavery. xPropelr is partnered with International Justice Mission’s (IJM) and works together to rescue, restore, protect, and prevent children and their families from getting trapped in modern slavery.

To find out more about xPropelr, please visit:

What can we do as individuals?

  • Educate yourself

Education is a key to getting rid of modern slavery. Through a number of valuable articles and organisations, we can find out more about modern slavery. Start today and look online and in newspapers to understand the plight of modern-day slavery acts.

  • Raise awareness

It is also vital that we share our education and knowledge with others. If you know anyone who does not know about modern slavery, take a step and provide resources on modern slavery. Share what you have discovered and encourage others to take action.

  • Support Anti-Slavery Organisations

When our support is more desperately needed than ever, we as individuals should support Anti-Slavery Organisations simply by volunteering for them, signing up for their membership, and participating in their fundraising opportunities. Taking a step further, we can also make a small donation to the incredible organisations that work on rescuing people from modern slavery and supporting survivors.

  • Sign petitions

Signing a petition is a way to demonstrate our support and make an impact on a change in the anti-slavery movement. Visit to sign up for ongoing campaigns that call governments and companies to take progressive steps against modern slavery. Our voice and our action matter!



Writer's bio
Lucia (Yubin) Kim is currently studying Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, majoring in Marketing Science and Chinese Language Studies and minoring in International Relations. As an individual who grew up in South Korea, Lucia is passionate about bridging the cultural gaps between Australia and Asia.