Business & Human Rights

Modern Slavery

The International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Walk Free estimate that in 2021, there were 50 million people living in conditions of modern slavery, including 28 million being subjected to forced or compulsory labour. The Asia-Pacific region has the highest prevalence of forced labour of any region in the world, with four out of every 1000 people estimated to be subjected to forced labour.

Modern slavery in its many forms — forced labour, debt bondage and the worst forms of child labour, among others — continues to affect millions around the world. Whilst global supply chains generate financial growth, employment, skill development and technology transfer, the presence of pervasive human rights violations, such as modern slavery, significantly hinders Sustainable Development.

Business participants of the UN Global Compact have made the commitment to our Ten Principles including:

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights
  • Principle 2: Businesses should make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses
  • Principle 4: Businesses should uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour
  • Principle 5: Businesses should uphold the effective abolition of child labour

The UN Global Compact Network Australia supports Australian participants to meet the Ten Principles and broader commitments made under the UN Global Compact, through the delivery of publications, training and network engagement.

Modern Slavery Impact Initiative

From 2020 to 2023, the UN Global Compact Network Australia is conducting a Modern Slavery Impact Initiative (MSII) to support Australian businesses to respond to modern slavery risks within their operations and supply chains. The MSII delivers training, awareness raising and guidance on how to identify and respond to risks of modern slavery in a manner that is aligned to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and connects, leads and supports Australian participants of the UN Global Compact to meet their human rights and labour rights commitments.

The MSII is supported by grant funding under the Australian Government National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025.

In 2023, the MSII will deliver programming designed to assist both corporate and SME participants with their modern slavery risk management efforts.

Current Projects

The following projects are currently in progress. If you would like to learn more about a particular publication or project, please contact our Manager, Human Rights, Chris Caskey.

TitleTypeStatusOpportunity for Collaboration
Top Ten Modern Slavery Issues for Australian Company DirectorsPublicationConsultation phaseNA
Modern Slavery Risk Management: SME PlaybookPublicationConsultation phaseContribute case study / request guidance
Human Rights Due Diligence in the Context of Modern SlaveryPublicationConsultation phaseContribute case study

Modern Slavery Community of Practice (MSCoP)

To help Australian businesses navigate new developments and share learnings in a safe space, the UN Global Compact Network Australia (UNGCNA) hosts a Modern Slavery Community of Practice (MSCoP) for business members. To ensure the MSCoP programming is targeted and relevant for all attendees, we run three separate streams (Optimising, Implementing and SME).

Each stream within the UNGCNA Modern Slavery Community of Practice comprises a small, interactive group that meets at least bi-annually and operates under the Chatham House Rule.

The purpose of the Community of Practice is:

  • To connect participating UNGCNA members and enable learning and discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing Australian business relating to identifying, managing and communicating modern slavery risks.
  • To identify and share leading modern slavery interventions to enable members and other Australian-based organisations to improve their modern slavery risk management program, in line with the principle of continuous improvement.
  • To support members in preparing for further regulatory movement on modern slavery and human rights due diligence.

2023 MSCoP sessions

The Modern Slavery Community of Practice is an invitation-only community. It is offered exclusively to business participants of the UN Global Compact Network Australia.

SME StreamAssessing modern slavery risks13 June 2023Virtual2.00pm – 4.00pm
Optimising StreamTBA14 September 2023Virtual11.00am – 2.00pm
Implementing StreamTBA18 October 2023Virtual11.00am – 2.00pm
SME StreamTBA8 November 2023Virtual1.00pm – 3.00pm

For more information on joining our Modern Slavery Community of Practice, please contact us.

Bite-sized Learning

The UN Global Compact Network Australia is releasing a series of Bite-sized Learning videos unpacking key modern slavery risk management issues and trends for Australian businesses across 2022 and 2023.


To support businesses to increase their understanding and capacity to implement effective modern slavery due diligence processes, the UN Global Compact Network Australia (UNGCNA) is producing a series of publications as part of the MSII. These publications are also designed to support businesses to better report under the Australian Modern Slavery Act.

Modern Slavery Impact Initiative: Publication Series

From 2021 to 2023, UNGCNA is producing a series of Modern Slavery focussed publications to assist businesses with identifying, managing and mitigating modern slavery risks within their business. Publications released to date include:

Modern Slavery within Maritime Shipping Supply Chains

This publication is designed to help Australian businesses uphold their responsibility to respect the human rights of seafarers within their supply chains, including freedom from modern slavery in all its forms. It was written by the UN Global Compact Network Australia (UNGCNA) in partnership with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), with support from the Australian Branch of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Australian Inspectorate.

Publications Library
Effective Modern Slavery Grievance Mechanisms: A Case Study Publication for BusinessThis publication aims to increase Australian businesses’ understanding of effective grievance mechanisms that can address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and to equip businesses to establish and operate these mechanisms. This will support businesses to describe their actions to respond to modern slavery risks, including remediation processes — a requirement of the Australian Act.Publications Library
Effective Modern Slavery Grievance Mechanisms: A Guidance Note for BusinessThis publication aims to provide practical advice to support businesses at all stages of designing and implementing effective business-led grievance mechanisms to hear and address complaints about modern slavery in their operations and their supply chains. The guide may be particularly useful for businesses reporting either voluntarily or compulsorily under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (Australian Act), as well as businesses implementing key voluntary standards.Publications Library


Upcoming events

Modern Slavery Collaborator Roundtable – Business Pathways to Human Rights Due Diligence (Invitation only)


24 May 2023

In-person (Melbourne)10.00am – 12.00pmInvitation Only
Modern Slavery Community of Practice – SME Stream (Invitation only)13 June 2023Virtual2.00pm – 4.00pmInvitation Only

Regulatory engagement on Modern Slavery

As a leading voice and platform for learning and action, UN Global Compact Network Australia has built a strong reputation for supporting businesses to tackle modern slavery and regularly engages with government and regulatory bodies on the design and operation of modern slavery laws and regulations in Australia. Select public submissions relating to modern slavery can be found below:

Get Involved

Register your interest to be involved in the Modern Slavery Impact Initiative or to join our nationwide Modern Slavery Community of Practice at secretariat@unglobalcompact.org.au.

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