Modern Slavery in the Infrastructure Sector - ISCouncil
City Rail Link: Leading in Sustainability

Modern Slavery in the Infrastructure Sector

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

As the infrastructure sector plays a critical role in shaping sustainable cities and the scale up of renewable energy projects and use of circular materials, we must not ignore the human costs and risks to people in this transition, including modern slavery.

In this session we highlighted some of the modern slavery risks in infrastructure supply chains and how these risks could be present, including practical examples of how to engage with suppliers on these risks. The webinar will include a presentation from the Office of the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner about how NSW Government agencies are expected to manage modern slavery risks in the infrastructure supply chain and what this means for Government suppliers. We will also provide an update on the broader Australian legislative context and developments in New Zealand, as well as highlighting key resources available to support embedding modern slavery risk management actions across the lifecycle of infrastructure projects.

Presented by members of the ISC’s Modern Slavery Coalition, with special guest Lucy Forbes from the Office of the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The ISC Modern Slavery Coalition is actively calling for new members to join, learn, share and make a difference!

Email for further information.
Presentation slides – here
Webinar Recording – here

Additional Question and Answers

one of the most important things to make the due diligence effectvly happen in the supply chain mapping process is accesabilty to data and veryfiying those data. this could be a great challnege. any advice to cope with challenge? One of the most important things is to make sure that Due Diligence is ongoing.  Continuously mapping your supply chain and using various resources, whether that is contractual reporting by your suppliers, seeking out industry groups to help map the parts of your supply chain, tracking invoices or materials qty ins and outs from manufacturers in the supply chain.   Hope some of those tips help.
one of the most important things to make the due diligence effectvly happen in the supply chain mapping process is accesabilty to data and veryfiying those data. this could be a great challnege. any advice to cope with challenge? In addition to the data, it can also be helpful to look atr opportunities to engage directly with specific higher risk suppliers, such as a supplier deep dive to look at sourcing of a particular product. This can help add a qualitative lens to the quantitative data
As a small business (non-reporting) can I please have some advice for how we can best respond to our customers’ questions about our supply chains? Imagine a business with under 15 staff having to answer these deep and detailed questions where we might not know or have the ability to get such information. How do you get this information from smaller and smaller suppliers or overseas suppliers? Are there other sources to search other than the suppliers themselves? What is the expectation on such small businesses? The resourcing impact on small suppliers is something that’s very real. Some options to consider could be a standard document you could share with all customers that explains briefly what types of risks you think are relevant to your operations and supply chains, how you manage these risks (ie all your employees are engaged in accordance with Australian law and you have a contract clause prohibiting modern slavery with your suppliers etc). This may help show your customers that you are aware of your risks and seeking to manage them appropriately. Importantly, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which underpin the Australian guidance explain that entities’ responses should be proportionate to their size and risk profile – that is a small organisation can’t be expected to manage risks in the same way as a global company. Another option is also to say to a customer that you are open to working with them on a shared deep dive into a particular issue or supplier?
With the apparent leading knowledge coming from other countries such as the U.S. , should we consider using the UFLPA list of entities their list of goods on the U.S. CBP website of entities and goods linked to forced labour? It’s a helpful tool to consider as part of due diligence – both in relation to specific suppliers as well as to help understand general types of goods that are higher risk. As mentioned, there may also be a risk that goods unable to imported into the US are instead imported in other markets, such as Australia.
Do we have any insights into the detail of what the Due Diligence obligations will be in the likely updates to the Act? At the moment it appears that it would be an requirement to have a modern slavery due diligence system in place. Which would mean having in place risk assessment processes, actions to manage those risks, and to track effectiveness. Which mirror what companies should be doing as part of their current modern slavery reporting. It is possible though that Parliament will choose to make this requirement broader.
Supply chain engagement requires a lot of resources and admin burden for tiers 2 and 3 – how to encourge participation. This is only for Modern Slavery assessment, but now to reduce carbon emissions the recommendations are to engage with suppliers – which makes it double effort to assess – what do you suggest to reduce admin burden? Yes, lower supply chain tiers can be challenging.  We recommend engaging with Tier 1 suppliers first and trying to get collaboration for them to work with their direct supply chain (your Tier2).  Tackling all of your topics listed can be done at the same time to streamline engagement and reduce administration burden.
Start with small set of questions to higlight high level risks, and then assess those answers to dive deeper into areas that may raise indicatorsOASC supplementary response: In addition to the points suggested by Sebastian, consider partnering with other agencies that share the same suppliers, or owners of any scheme/s of which the supplier is part. Collecting and sharing information collaboratively across government reduces the burden on both individual agencies / business units and suppliers, as the latter only has to “tell us once”.
Some supply chains are very challenging to get visibility over. Once we have better visibility down the tiers of complex supply chains, what is a reasonable measure to take to further investigate potential risks? Where do you stop? OASC response:

Hi Sara,

In general, organizations should focus their due diligence and risk mitigation efforts on the areas of their supply chain where the most serious risks to people exist, even if these risks exist further down a complex supply chain. The scope of “reasonable” actions will, however, vary depending on the organization’s size, capabilities and leverage over its value chain. The nature and extent of these actions will therefore be highly situation-specific.

When investigating and addressing risks further down a supply chain, entities should start by building leverage through collaboration with their suppliers or (subject to applicable competition etc. rules) industry partners. Infrastructure organizations can also leverage technology, such as worker voice platforms, to ensure they are engaging impacted stakeholders throughout their supply chains.

The focus should be on continuous improvement: building visibility and encouraging better supplier practices over time

If I wanted to identify the modern slavery risks in regards to employment and the people directly employed by my organisation, where would you recommend I start? It’s helpful to think about the cohorts of workers who may be most vulnerable. For example, are there employees or contractors who may be lower skilled in countries where there are higher risk? Are these employees recruited by third parties who may charge recruitment fees? Does everyone employeed have written contracts in a language they understand? Are there any outsourced services or labour hire workers? It can also be helpful to explain why other cohorts of workers may be less vulnerable – for example, skilled white collar professional employees.
does Social Value for public benifit coem into this space? if not why hot Great question Deborah – creating social value for people and communities would potentially reduce the risks of labour abuses and modern slavery through any valued initatives.  Its a great positive action to do – however – the UN Guiding Principles state that a companies negative human rights impacts cannot be offset by creating a postiive initiative.
how can companies in the infrastructure sector implement effective due diligence processes to identify and mitigate the risks of modern slavery, particularly in relation to sourcing materials and labor? OASC response:

Hi Paola,

The NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner’s Guidance on Reasonable Steps provides a detailed overview of effective due diligence processes across industries.  The most important first step for companies is establishing an organizational commitment to identifying and addressing modern slavery through engaging stakeholders, identifying salient risks, creating a modern slavery policy approved by the senior governing body, and developing a risk management plan.


In relation to sourcing raw materials, companies should be aware of well-reported risks in value chains of materials they procure regularly, e.g. brick kilns in Pakistan, timber in Brazil, cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They should ensure that questions asked during the tender process allow buyers to obtain sufficient information to assess whether the procurement will contribute to risks of harm to people.


In relation to labour, companies should can manage risks by:

–        Ensuring that any tender price is consistent with the tenderer offering workers a living wage;

–        Ensuring that any labour hire companies and recruiters are adequately regulated / supervised;

–        Avoiding short turnaround times on orders, or long payment times to suppliers

–        Ensuring that supply-chain workforces are aware of their rights, including re: fair pay and association

–        Ensuring that effective worker voice and grievance mechanisms are in place.

I guess that at the moment of engaging a new supplier/contractor on a project, the qualification process is a key procss  to lower the risk of engaging companies invilved in modern slavery? Qualification and contracting is typically the point of greatest leverage. So thinking about using modern slavery tender clauses or having other engagement with suppliers at this point is really key.
I am listening from WA. My organisation has recently established a sustainability/Modern Slavery working group to plan for the potential upcoming amendments to the Cth Act. We are not at the current reporthing threshold but are planning for an amendment where we will be. We commenced with a review of a solutions system Moody’s Analytics but are struggling to find any other solutions. What are your recommendations for assistance in system solutions to assist in due dilligence and risk management on supply chain, other agencies in WA that can assist in design of sustainability/MS solutions, and where we can find general assistance in WA to assist medium sized businesses to bring onboard solutions for best practice in this area. Hi Leisha – that’s great to hear. Tech solutions are important but also don’t underestimate what you can do internally as well. The WA Small Business Commissioner might be a helpful first port of call? Walk Free is also an NGO based in Perth. And also happy to chat afterwards about some of the stakeholders in WA you could contact – my email is
Let’s say Victoria gets an anti-slavery commissioner office, will the whole of Vic government be viewed as one body and therefore required to report on this/follow reasonable steps guidance? or would this be department to department? OASC response:

Hi Anila,

The NSW Act requires individual due diligence and reporting by any ‘government agency’ – i.e., departments, councils, and other public and local authorities.


If modern slavery reporting and due diligence measures are introduced in Victoria, whether they require individual or whole-of-government DD and reporting will depend on the way the law is drafted. However, it is – on balance – probably more likely that they would follow the NSW model of entity-level reporting.

Is there any proper monitoring or oversight mechanism in place to assure  the legal obligations by public entities are met accordingly? OASC response:

Hi Amin,

In relation to the NSW Act, the NSW Anti-slavery Commissioner has the power to name non-compliant entities on a public register. The NSW Auditor-General may also conduct a modern slavery audit of a government agency under s 38G of the Government Sector Audit Act 1983.


Under the federal regime, section 16A of the Cth Modern Slavery Act 2018 provides for non compliant entities to be named on a public register if they have failed to comply with / respond to requests to remedy non-conforming statements.

Is there a way of being notified when the discussion paper is released this year? OASC response:

Hi Kate,

Yes – please sign up for our OASC Due Diligence News & Resources mailing list here:

Are there private organizations or businesses that specialize in investigating organisations’ supply chains for modern slavery risks? If yes, is there collaboration and information-sharing among stakeholders to help enhance the effectiveness of efforts to eradicate modern slavery from global supply chains? OASC response:

Hi Rajaei,

There are a range of organizations that provide social audits, worker voice mechanisms, or certification. One good example is the Cleaning Accountability Framework, which works with cleaners, worker representatives, tenants, contractors, property owners, facility managers, and investors across the cleaning supply chain to promote decent work, ethical procurement and best practice

Thanks a lot Lucy. Would you be preparing code of practice for construction as well? Would that be possible to provide links and information about Spend Cube Categories how to reach out this source as the risk assesment is based on this information in which many sub departments in the organisations do not have involvement or visibility to this? No information available at ASC’s page. That would be so helpful. Are the both versions of Tender Clauses mandatory to use? Are you planning any upcoming sessions with organisations before May to ask the questions related to GRS? OASC response:

Hi Seda,

The renewables Code of Practice is the only code currently under development, although further codes will be developed in future in line with sector needs, identified areas of risk to people, and OASC resources.

The IRIT, the Guidance on Reasonable Steps and other resources are available on our website here:

The Heightened version of the Model Tender Clauses should be used for procurements that are associated with high modern slavery risks. The Streamlined version can be used as a resource for other procurements. Both the Heightened and Streamlined versions of the tender clause are designed to be adapted in line with the specific procurement and other tender documents.

If you have specific queries about the IRIT, MTCs or Guidance, we would be delighted to speak further with you. Please reach out to us at



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