'Hidden in Plain Sight': Final Report from Inquiry into Modern Slavery Released

Tuesday 12 December 2017 @ 10.10 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On 7 December 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade ('the Committee') tabled its final report on modern slavery, titled ‘Hidden in Plain Sight.’ 


In November 2016, the Committee sought approval from the Australian Government to investigate modern slavery, and in February 2017 the government, through the Attorney-General, provided a referral for the inquiry. For an overview of the inquiry’s terms of reference, see TimeBase’s earlier article.

On 16 August 2017, the Committee released its Interim Report, which recommended the establishment of a mandatory global supply chain reporting requirement to certain entitles and the creation of legislation pertaining to modern slavery. For an overview of the interim report, see TimeBase’s article.

Key Recommendations in Final Report

In the final report, the Committee recommended the introduction of a federal Modern Slavery Act in Australia. The recommended Act should include:

  • Provisions for the establishment of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner;
  • Provisions for a mandatory supply chain reporting requirement;
  • Measures to better support victims of slavery through a national compensation scheme;
  • Measures addressing orphanage trafficking and child exploitation in overseas institutions;
  • Provisions to address labour exploitation, including establishing a labour hire licensing scheme and changes to visa frameworks.

The Committee also made the following key recommendations:

  • The ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930;
  • The development of an enhanced research and monitoring programme by the Australian Institute of Criminology to better understand the occurrence of modern slavery in Australia;
  • A legislative review of the proposed Modern Slavery Act every three years;
  • The introduction of defences for victims who are compelled to commit a crime because of exploitation or their circumstances;
  • The introduction of a right to civil remedy for victims;
  • The expansion of training for frontline staff of the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Fair Work Ombudsman, Centrelink, and Medicare, across states and territories.

Media statements

The Law Council of Australia has endorsed the Committee's report. The President of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona Mcleod SC said that it was critical to establish a National Compensation Scheme, stating:

"The Law Council has long argued that, for trafficking and slavery laws to be effective, they must include a thorough national compensation scheme for survivors of human trafficking, slavery, and slavery-like practices. The current statutory victims' compensation schemes provided by the states and territories allow victims to fall through the cracks with potential to lead to unjust results. A national compensation scheme is necessary not only to provide justice, but to ensure victims are incentivised to come forward and tell their stories."

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Final Report from the Inquiry into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, 'Hidden in Plain Sight, Tabled December 2017.

Law Council of Australia, 'National Compensation Scheme for victims of modern slavery a watershed recommendation,' (Media release) 8 December 2017.

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