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Human trafficking and slavery occurs here in Australia.

Australia is a destination country for people who have been trafficked. In Australia, human trafficking leads to exploitation in a number of forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour, visa exploitation, forced marriage and domestic servitude. Each of these is characterised by deception, coercion, force, threat and abuse, and each is an issue of human rights and in many cases, child protection and gender inequality.  

We call these types of exploitation modern slavery. In Australia, they are punishable under the Criminal Code Act (1995)

Significant signs of trafficking include:


If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000. 

You can call the Australian Federal Police Human Trafficking Team on 131 237. 

The Salvation Army operates Australia’s only Safe House for persons who have experienced trafficking & slavery in Australia.  Contact the Safe House on +61 2 9211 5794

Anti-Slavery Australia provides free, confidential legal advice and referrals. You can call them on (02) 9514 9660 or go to their website here.   

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Forced labour has occurred when a person would not consider themselves to be free to stop or to leave work, because of force or threats, or due to being tricked.

  • Is the person being forced to work?
  • Does the person have a large debt or bond?
  • Is the person a child, or performing work against the law?  
  • Is the person unsure of their employment and working conditions?
  • Is the person made to work unusual and/or excessive hours?
  • Is the person subject to dangerous working conditions, such as unsafe work practices, or an unreasonably unhygienic work environment?
  • Is the person living at the workplace or at a place controlled by the employers?
  • Is the employer unable to provide records of wages paid to the person? 

Case Study:

On 6 October 2011, Mr Diveye Trivedi pled guilty to one count of people trafficking (s 271.2(1B) of Criminal Code). Between 2007 and 2008, Mr Trivedi organised the travel of an Indian male to Australia in order to work as a chef in one of his Indian restaurants. Upon arrival, the man was subjected to exploitative conditions which included: being forced to live and bathe at the restaurant and work an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week for minimal pay; being consistently abused, both physically and mentally; and receiving threats against his person and his family.

On 8 May 2012, Mr Trivedi was sentenced to 250 hours’ community service and a fine of $1,000. To date this is the only conviction for labour trafficking in Australia. See also the case of Kovacs below, where the defendants were charged over similar treatment under the slavery provisions of the Criminal Code.

To read another story concerning forced labour in the restaurant industry, click here.

If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000.

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Visa exploitation has occurred when a person has come to Australia, and their visa conditions and minimum working conditions are not being met. This may amount to human trafficking if they are coerced into working in exploitative conditions and/or their identity papers are withheld or freedom restricted

  • Has the person been given false information about their migration to Australia?
  • Has the person asked for, received, offered or provided a benefit in return for visa sponsorship?
  • Are the person’s visa conditions not being met?
  • Will the person be punished if they leave or stop work?

The ACTU has a confidential hotline to assist people on short-term working visas who are being exploited by an employer. The number is 1300 362 223.

To read more about visa exploitation, click here.

If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000.

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Sexual exploitation has occurred when a person has been forced or tricked into providing services of a sexual nature.

In addition to the indicators for forced labour, the following signs may be present in offences of sexual exploitation:

  • Has the person been forced into providing services of a sexual nature?
  • Has the person been moved from another country or state to provide sexual services?
  • Is the person under the age of 18?
  • Has the person experienced abuse such as abduction, assault or rape?  

 If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these signs, and/or suspect that a person is experiencing sexual exploitation, consider a referral to Project Respect

If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000.

Case study:

Ji-min was lured from Korea to Australia by a ‘recruiter’, who promised her a secure and well-paid job as a karaoke singer and dancer. Ji-min’s sponsors paid for her flight and for her apartment, which Ji-min shared with five other women. On her first day of work, Ji-min found herself in a brothel. Her recruiters told her that she owed more than $8,000 in travel and accommodation costs and that she was required to provide sexual services in order to pay the debt. Read more about Ji-min’s story, and how the Salvation Army assisted Ji-min here.

Read more about sexual exploitation here.

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A forced marriage has occurred when a marriage has been entered into without the free and full consent of one or both parties as a result of force or threats, or due to being tricked. For information and assistance regarding forced marriage, visit

  • Is the person who is married or about to be married under the age of 18?
  • Have other members of the person’s family been married under the age of 18?
  • Has there been a sudden announcement that the person is engaged?
  • Has the person said that they don’t want to get married, but are being made to by their family?
  • Has the person been spending a lot of time away from school, university or work?
  • Does the person seem nervous or scared about an upcoming overseas family holiday?
  • Does the person have an intellectual disability that may prevent them from being able to agree or not agree to the marriage?

Case Study:

Ms Madley was 16 years old when her parents arranged for her to marry a man from Lebanon that she had met only once before. The wedding was scheduled to take place in Lebanon within two weeks of her urgent application to the Court. She gave evidence that she was fearful for her safety and her mother’s reactions and that she did not want to marry the young man she was engaged to.

The Court ordered that her parents be restrained from removing, attempting or causing removal of, Ms Madley from Australia. Ms Madley’s passport was also to be surrendered to court and she was placed on the airport Watch List. To read more about this story, click here.

To read more about forced marriage on The Huffington Post, click here.

If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000.


Domestic servitude has occurred when a person is being held in a house or other domestic environment, and is forced to work unusual or excessive hours. 

  • Does the person rarely leave the house?
  • Is the person always accompanied by their employer or partner?
  • Is the person made to work unusual and/or excessive hours in a domestic environment?
  • Are the person’s physical needs not being met? For example, poor diet, inadequate health care or make-shift sleeping arrangements.

Watch Sandra’s story here.

If you or a person you know is in immediate danger, call 000.