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Slavery in Australia

The Global Slavery Index (2016) estimates that 45.8 million men, women and children are enslaved around the world, including in Australia.

In Australia, slaveholders are using people against their will for their own advantage. Sometimes people are hidden behind closed doors; some are hidden in plain sight.

 Victims of slavery and human trafficking may be the person who picks the apples on your table, attaches the rain gutters to your house, cares for your neighbours children, cleans your car, makes the clothes you are wearing or serves your food.

People are sold as objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the complete mercy of their employers. Someone is in slavery if they are: 

  • Forced to work through psychological or physical threat 
  • Owned or controlled by their employer usually through psychological or physical abuse or the threat of abuse 
  • Dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as property 
  • Physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement
  • Forced to marry without consent


Examples of Slavery in Australia

  • 2016, more than 50 Taiwanese nationals were discovered locked in 2 Brisbane mansions, forced to work 7 days a week in a fake call centre with no pay
  • 2015, a 12 year old girl was forced into marriage with a 27 year old man in New South Wales

  • 2013, a Brisbane woman was jailed for 9 years for trafficking her 9 year old daughter from Thailand to work in her Brisbane sex work business. The mother sent for her daughter from Thailand to be brought to Australia for a 6 week holiday in 2004 and was kept in a situation of slavery.
  • 2013, the Australian Federal Police arrested 3 Australians for recruiting Filipino boxers to Australia, promising them riches and success. When they arrived in Sydney they had their passports taken and they were used as unpaid domestic workers.
  • 2011, a Sydney woman suffering from a kidney condition was suspected to have trafficked a young woman from the Philippines with the intention of harvesting an organ. Due to this case, Australia now has a criminal offence to address organ trafficking under the Commonwealth Code.
  • 2007, Domestic Slavery by a diplomatic official. A Bangladeshi man filed a suit against the United Arab Emirates, claiming he was not paid wages during a six-month stint in the Canberra home of its ambassador.
  • 2005, A Filipina maid owed $43,000 in damages and lost wages by a senior Chilean diplomat whom she accused of exploiting and abusing her.


Want to know more?


Useful Websites

If you or somebody you know is in danger, call 000. You can also contact the Australian Federal Police on 131 AFP. For confidential advice about a trafficking or slavery situation, call The Freedom Partnership: +61 2 9266 9762.