Modern slavery in health services: a risk management guide

Tuesday, 16 November, 2021

Modern slavery in health services: a risk management guide

The Australian Human Rights Commission and KPMG Australia have launched a guide to help the sector respond effectively to the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth).

The Act requires large companies with a revenue of $100m or more to report annually on their strategies to address risks of modern slavery in their global operations and supply chains. Modern slavery refers to a range of serious human rights violations, which are also crimes in Australia. They include: human trafficking; slavery, servitude and forced marriage; forced labour, debt bondage and child labour; deceptive recruiting for labour or services.

The Modern Slavery in the Health Services Sector: Practical responses to managing risks to people guide is relevant to health sector entities that are required to report under the Modern Slavery Act, and their suppliers.

“The recent spotlight on health sector organisations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the critical importance of the health sector, but also the sector’s modern slavery risks, especially in relation to the procurement of medical goods,” said Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM.

“The connection between public and private entities in the sector makes navigating and managing operational and supply chain issues challenging. Nevertheless, with its public interface and intrinsic people-centred focus, the sector is uniquely placed to address modern slavery risks,” said Richard Boele, Partner in Charge of KPMG Banarra Human Rights and Social Impact, Global Leader of Business and Human Rights Network, KPMG Australia.

“The guide is part of a collaboration between the Commission and KPMG which aims to support business to respond meaningfully to the modern slavery risks across a range of sectors,” Boele said.

“Effective management of modern slavery risks involves placing ‘risks to people’ at the heart of your response,” Boele said.

The guide showcases examples of current practice from the sector and provides good practice tips on how to manage key risk areas.

“Taking a rights-based approach to addressing modern slavery will assist health sector organisations to meet the increasing expectations of investors, governments, clients, consumers, business peers and civil society around business respect for human rights,” Professor Croucher said.

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