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Human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery are a huge but often hidden problem – and there are currently an estimated 40.31 million people in slavery worldwide, most of which are women and children.

What is modern slavery?

Most people believe that slavery is a thing of the past, however, more people are in slavery today than at any point in history. Modern slavery can take many forms, including forced labour, child labour, domestic servitude, sex trafficking and human trafficking.

There are more people in slavery today than at any other point in history, and it occurs in every country globally – not just in the developing world.

If you haven’t identified modern slavery in your supply chains, it is likely you are not looking in the right places” – Senator Linda Reynolds, Co-Sponsor of Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth.)

Why is this important to your investments?

Any company that profits from using forced labour is doing so illegally. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. In fact, the total profits obtained from the use of forced labour in the private economy worldwide is estimated to be around US$150 billion per year.2

Aside from the huge impacts on society and, of course, those individuals involved, modern slavery has negative repercussions for companies and future development. At Colonial First State, we believe modern slavery has no place in society and we all share the responsibility to eradicate it as a matter of priority.

What can we do?

New modern slavery legislation in Australia requires certain businesses to report their efforts to identify, manage, and mitigate modern slavery in their supply chains and operations. At Colonial First State, we are strengthening our processes with our suppliers and working to better understand their possible human rights impacts.

The finance industry is considered a lower risk relative to other industries such as agriculture and fisheries3; however, all companies rely on their supply chains to provide key goods and services, and this is typically where the potential risk of modern slavery lies.

We have agreements with more than 70 investment managers which each have their own operations and supply chains to consider, so it’s a complicated undertaking, but one which must be tackled collectively to drive modern slavery out of society. The process of developing our responsible investment strategy is ongoing and continues to shape the way we engage with our investment managers and our suppliers on environmental and social matters.


An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.


It means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.


1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.


16 million people are exploited in high risk sectors such as domestic work, construction or agriculture.

We will continually develop our approach to improve our ability to identify, manage and mitigate the risks of modern slavery in our operations and supply chains.


Information on this webpage is provided by Avanteos Investments Limited ABN 20 096 259 979, AFSL 245531 (AIL) and Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFSIL). It may include general advice but does not consider your individual objectives, financial situation, needs or tax circumstances.  You can find the Target Market Determinations (TMD) for our financial products at, which include a description of who a financial product might suit. You should read the Financial Services Guide (FSG) available online for information about our services. This information is based on current requirements and laws as at the date of publication. 

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