Department, Supplementary Submission 48, p. 2.
The AGD also provided details of the investigations between 2010 and
2012 noting that:
AFP Human Trafficking Teams (HTT) commenced 41 new
investigations in 2011-12, compared with 35 new investigations in 2010-11.
Approximately 59 per cent of the investigations in 2011-12 related to
trafficking for sexual exploitation. Since 2004, the CDPP has obtained 15
convictions for trafficking-related offences.
The AGD added that of those fifteen convictions, ‘ten of those
individuals were convicted of slavery offences, three of sexual servitude
offences and two of people trafficking offences.’
At a public hearing, the CDPP advised the Committee that:
n the AFP had referred
46 defendants who had committed potential offences under divisions 270 or 271
of the Commonwealth Criminal Code to the CDPP;
n the CDPP charged 42
of the 46 defendants with offences (four defendants were not charged with
offences because there was insufficient evidence);
n of the 42 defendants that
were charged, 15 were convicted;
n five defendants were
n the CDPP withdrew
charges against 11 defendants before trial;
n there were four
defendants to whom the jury discharged on the first trial and the CDPP decided
to withdraw charges and not go to a retrial;
for two defendants ended in a hung jury and the CDPP decided to withdraw the
charges rather than go to a retrial;
n three defendants are
awaiting trial at the moment; and
n there are two
defendants who were charged and then the CDPP referred the matter to be prosecuted
by the State Director of Public Prosecutions under corresponding State charges.
The Victoria Police were also able to provide some information on their
experiences with trafficking in their State. At a public hearing, the Victoria
Police stated that to date it had encountered trafficking in Victoria primarily
around the sex industry. They did, however, acknowledge that while labour
trafficking and servile marriage were becoming emerging issues, they ‘do not
have really good visibility as of yet.’
The Victoria Police also elaborated on the prevalence of labour
trafficking in Victoria stating:
Labour trafficking was first raised with us as an issue when
the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Fiona David did a study. One of the
community focus groups was in Mildura and it was interesting in starting to
talk to a few of those community groups that in fact trafficking had occurred,
to the point that there were quite significant and very serious offences that
have occurred. One was around a person who was employed for a farmer who had
held the person to a certain degree of coercion about their visa arrangements
and for that purpose received sexual favours. That was not something we were
aware of and as that discussion emerged it became more and more obvious about
the potential within these environments for that sort of activity, not
necessarily that serious but labour trafficking all the same. That really
underpinned our belief that it is an issue that is not something that sits
elsewhere in the world, it is actually on our doorstep and we need to do
something significant there.
Non-Government Organisations’ assistance for
The Salvation Army Safe House for Trafficked Persons noted that not all
trafficked victims choose to seek the assistance of the police and proceed with
an investigation or criminal proceedings.
The Salvation Army stated that it had case-managed and delivered
assistance to 84 individuals since 2008. Of those, 34 individuals made reports
to the AFP (28 female, six male). Eighteen of those 34 individuals chose to
engage with the AFP and seven individuals received a negative assessment from
The Salvation Army also noted that it had:
n received 23 referrals
for slave-like marriage;
n lodged 19 protection
visas on behalf of clients (of which 13 have been granted);
n lodged six claims
before Fair Work; and
n were providing
support to 12 dependants in Australia and overseas.
The Salvation Army added that it had assisted or come into contact with
38 individuals who have worked in the sex industry, stating:
In terms of the number of clients we have assisted or come
into contact with, who have worked in the sex industry, I believe the number is
38. That does not mean we have case-managed all of those people; it is people
we have come into contact with. Thirty-six of those were women who knew that
they would be working in the sex industry before they migrated to Australia.
Out of the 38 we have come into contact with, only two were deceptively
recruited to work in the sex industry.
Research on slavery and people trafficking
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is responsible for the
research component of Australia’s whole of government response to trafficking
The AIC noted that it had initiated research projects on trafficking and
marriage arrangements, labour trafficking, trafficking in the construction
industry, and migrant sex worker vulnerabilities and protections to trafficking.
The AIC noted that some migrant women in Australia had experienced
trafficking and slavery-like conditions within their marriage arrangements,
…some migrant women have experienced the type of exploitation
associated with trafficking and slavery within various marriage arrangements,
such as love marriages, arranged marriages, and marriages resulting from online
marriage brokering and internet dating sites.
The AIC also noted a report that it was about to release on issues in
the marriage context. The report found that:
…in the small number of cases identified in the study,
marriage visa classes had been used to facilitate trafficking, slavery-like
exploitation or associated risky scenarios. Marriages have been identified
where there was no intention on the part of the husband for the marriage to be
genuine, which you might call a sham marriage—a bit like the Kovacs case: the
husband is already in a relationship, and the marriage is really to facilitate
a form of labour trafficking.
On the incidence of labour trafficking in Australia, the AIC stated that
‘while the precise size of the labour trafficking problem remains unknown,
there have been instances of unreported and/or unrecognised labour
The AIC was also able to provide some information on the vulnerabilities
to trafficking and slavery type crime in the sex industry from an upcoming
The research we have done is not meant to provide an accurate
view of the exact level of vulnerability in the sex industry because we do not
know what the population of the sex industry is and also we use convenience sampling.
But it does give some idea of the exposure to recognised vulnerabilities to
trafficking and slavery type crime, using, for example, the ILO indicators. The
research overall suggests that exposure to vulnerabilities is not the norm in
the sex industry but that what you can find is that there are a very small
number of sex workers who are potentially connected with a niche. That is
coming back to that point I made earlier about an engineered niche where there
is high vulnerability.
On their findings, the AIC added:
There are some interesting findings—for example, the use of
brokers increases the vulnerability of a sex worker. Interestingly, some of the
disadvantaged backgrounds that one might have thought would have also increased
too—for example, low English proficiency or lower education—did not emerge as
The AIC did, however, highlight that knowledge and data on trafficking
is very limited and ‘there have been attempts to overcome this by doing
estimates’. The AIC elaborated:
We have got a very serious problem internationally and in
Australia. A lot of conclusions that might be drawn from the data that is
currently available have to be taken in that light. To the extent that they are
based on not just data but estimates, which involves methodologies that then
complicate the reliability, many agencies have said that estimates—the ones
that are repeatedly cited—are very problematic.
The AIC added:
It has been widely accepted that accurate information and
data on many aspects of trafficking in persons is difficult to obtain. This can
be explained by the clandestine nature of the crime; the lack of domestic,
regional and international data collection standards; and variances in domestic
legislation. This is not a problem exclusive to Australia, it is a global issue
and attempts are being made to address this in various ways. Nevertheless, a
strong evidence base is central to the development of strategies to address
The AIC also put forward the view that this crime may not be reported by
the victims, stating:
Another hurdle for research and reducing the crime is that it
may not be reported by victims. Where a service, usually highly specialised,
does identify a potential trafficking in persons type crime, it seems only some
matters proceed to investigation and then prosecution.
The AIC also pointed out that while the number of convictions may not
show the actual level of trafficking:
…the actual number of convictions is not necessarily
indicative of the actual level of trafficking in persons-type crime (eg unreported/historical
focus on sex industry by law enforcement). They do indicate, however, that
there are problems in three sectors, being the sex industry, ...non-sex
industry, …and marriage arrangements…
The Australian Crime Commission (ACC), an agency that delivers
specialist law enforcement intelligence analysis and investigative
capabilities, also agreed that obtaining accurate data on the extent of trafficking
in Australia was difficult, stating:
The clandestine nature of people trafficking, along with
difficulties in detection and probable high levels of underreporting makes the
collection of accurate information and data on people trafficking difficult.
The ACC were able to provide some more information about the extent of
trafficking in Australia, noting some of the findings from their Organised
Crime in Australia 2011 and Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2012 reports
Most victims of trafficking into Australia have been women
trafficked for the purpose of exploitation in the sex industry (in both legal
and illegal brothels). However, victims are increasingly being identified in
other industries, including the agricultural, construction and hospitality
agricultural, construction and legal and illegal sex industries are key targets
of exploitation by human traffickers. Some victims are also trafficked for
other purposes, such as domestic servitude. In many cases, victims believe they
are coming to Australia to study or work legitimately. Some victims are
trafficked into Australia knowing that they will undertake a particular type of
work, but are then held in debt-bondage or slavery-like conditions.
In Australia, the
extent of organised crime involvement in the labour hire industry has not been
assessed. However, recent research has indicated that labour trafficking exists
in a broader context of exploitation of migrant workers, particularly those in
low-skilled professions. Workers perceived to be at most risk of exploitation
are those on 457 visas, migrants working in the agricultural sector or as
domestic workers, international students and those working in the
Almost 70 per cent of
these investigations related to trafficking for the purposes of sexual
exploitation and the remainder related to exploitation in other industries.
Cases of trafficking
for sexual exploitation have largely involved small crime groups rather than
large organised crime groups. The small crime groups use family or business
contacts overseas to facilitate recruitment, movement and visa fraud. People
trafficking matters have also generally involved other crime types, including
immigration fraud, identity fraud, document fraud and money laundering.
are alert to matters raised in court by investigators and prosecutors, and to
indicators that alert authorities to potential criminality which are discussed
in open source publications. In response, people trafficking syndicates are
changing their modus operandi to avoid detection and, if detected to make
elements of the offence harder to prove to the standard that satisfies the
courts and juries.
Both the AIC and ACC noted that they were actively working to obtain
better data on people trafficking.
The AIC stated it would ‘develop a relevant framework of indicators for
monitoring trafficking in persons in Australia and the region’, adding that:
The Framework will be supported by a Guide for Collecting Information
and Data on Trafficking in Persons in Australia and the Region, to guide
government and non-government sectors in their information and data collection.
This Guide will ensure that relevant and comparable information and data is
collected across all sectors. Subject to the agreement of relevant agencies and
ethics approvals, as part of its future monitoring the AIC will analyse
information and data consistent with this Guide from both government and
The ACC stated that it was gathering information and intelligence relating
to people trafficking through the recently established National Human
In June 2012, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the
Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and state and territory police agencies
collaborated to establish a National Human Trafficking Desk (HT Desk) on the
Australian Criminal Intelligence Database and Australian Law Enforcement
Intelligence Network (ACID/ALEIN). This system is administered by the ACC.
Although in its infancy, the HT Desk functions as a
centralised point for the collection and dissemination of information and
intelligence relating to people trafficking. The HT Desk is accessible to
nominated users from all contributing agencies.
Community perceptions of slavery and people trafficking in Australia
During the course of the inquiry a number of Non-Government
Organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations put forward their views on
the prevalence of trafficking in Australia.
Anti-Slavery Australia (ASA) reported on the prevalence of trafficking
in the sex industry as well as forced labour, forced marriage and organ
In Australia, fewer than 400 people have been officially
identified as being trafficked in the period of 2005 to 2011. The majority of
people identified have been women exploited in the sex industry, however there
have been increasing reports of men and women trafficked into other industries
and experiencing other forms of exploitation such as forced labour in the hospitality
industry, agriculture and in private homes. There have been reported cases of
forced marriage and a reported case of organ trafficking.
The Josephite Counter‐Trafficking
Project (JCTP) stated that ‘men, women and children have been brought into Australia
under false pretences and have ended up in debt bondage and working in terrible
slave-like conditions.’ The JCTP also noted a growing
awareness of labour trafficking as well as trafficking in the sex industry.
Walk Free, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA)
and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) also commented on labour
trafficking in Australia. FECCA highlighted the
country of origin of trafficking victims stating:
…victims in Australia are predominantly from culturally
diverse backgrounds – largely being transported from countries such as
Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea to work in industries including prostitution
The ACTU believed that there had been an increase in labour trafficking,
There are an increasing number of victims in the agriculture,
construction, manufacturing, and hospitality sectors as well as domestic work.
The ACTU also commented on the vulnerability of certain parts of the
labour workforce to trafficking, stating:
n a high proportion of
the workforce in the agriculture sector is working illegally which exposes
workers to the risk of exploitation and debt bondage;
n the risk of forced
labour and labour trafficking in the construction and manufacturing sectors is
linked with the high use of temporary visa arrangements;
n a high proportion of
workers in the meat industry hold lower levels of education and literacy
attainment and little knowledge of industrial rights which exposes workers to
the risk of exploitation;
n domestic workers are
vulnerable to labour trafficking due to very limited social and other support
networks and as they are frequently dependent on their employer for all of
their accommodation, food and transportation;
students are particularly vulnerable to exploitation as they are under
significant financial pressure due to working time restrictions, inadequate
non-wage support, and over representation in poorly paid work and cash-in-hand
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) also believed that
international students were vulnerable remarking that ‘international students
have been used (and continue to be used) as source of exploitable labour.’
The NTEU added:
Given the numbers, it is concerning to note that student
visas are one of the preferred mechanisms for trafficking of people intended
underpaid/unpaid labour, to be brought in to Australia, and, to a lesser
extent, in sexual trafficking.
Family Voice Australia held the view that trafficking of women into
Australia for sexual servitude was a problem and highlighted the US
Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report which states:
Australia is primarily a destination country for women
subjected to forced prostitution and to a lesser extent, women and men subjected
to forced labor.
Collective Shout, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia, Christian
Faith and Freedom, Project Respect and the Australian Christian Lobby agreed
with the view of Family Voice that trafficking of women for sexual servitude was
a problem in Australia.
In particular, Christian Faith and Freedom put forward the view that
trafficking victims were from Asian countries, stating:
Australia has been reported as being a destination country
for human trafficking, with victims being trafficked from predominantly China,
Korea and Thailand, with many being coerced into exploitative conditions.
The Scarlet Alliance, however, suggested that trafficking was not
What we know from anecdotal evidence and from our extensive
contact with sex workers is that trafficking is not a widespread phenomenon in
The Salvation Army, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in
Humans (ACRATH), Ms Kittu Randhawa and Ms Avyi Patitsas all voiced their
concerns over the presence of slave-like sham marriages in Australia.
As noted above, the Salvation Army highlighted that it had assisted 23 victims
of forced marriage from other countries in its Safe House for Trafficked
ACRATH also highlighted that they had been contacted about women who
have been brought into Australia for sham marriages and found their way to
family violence shelters.
Many organisations that provided evidence for this inquiry agreed with
the AIC and ACC’s comments that trafficking in Australia is largely
The JCTP stated ‘it is impossible to have exact numbers for people who
have been trafficked to Australia due to high levels of under‐reporting.’
ASA agreed stating that ‘the 400 identified victims is under‐representative of the
full nature and extent of slavery, slavery‐like
conditions and people trafficking within Australia.’
The ACTU also believed that trafficking in Australia goes largely
under-reported, in particular for labour trafficking:
It is likely that the number of reported cases of labour
trafficking in Australia understates the scale of the problem. This is due to
incidences going unrecognised, under-reporting by victims, and the challenges
of addressing illegal activity. Therefore, it is recommended that the
statistics not be taken as providing the full picture of the issue of
trafficking in Australia.
While acknowledging that people trafficking is a serious problem, the
Law Council of Australia agreed with the AIC that the current data on
trafficking is unreliable:
The absence of completely reliable data regarding the
incidence of people trafficking and slavery at the global, regional and
domestic levels makes it difficult to ascertain the true extent of these
problems throughout the world.
The evidence received for this inquiry has highlighted that obtaining
accurate data about the extent of slavery and trafficking in Australia is
The Committee acknowledges the work of the AIC and ACC to obtain better
data on people trafficking through the development of a relevant framework of
indicators for monitoring trafficking in persons in Australia and the
establishment of the National Human Trafficking Desk.
The strengthening of the offences for slavery and trafficking in the
Commonwealth Criminal Code should also provide another means of gauging
the extent of slavery and trafficking in Australia.
It will be important for the Australian Government to closely monitor
the outcomes of all these initiatives.
Slavery and people trafficking are serious crimes and a violation of an
individual’s basic human rights. We must take appropriate action to combat these
It is important to consider a suite of mechanisms and tools to combat
these crimes which includes the strengthening of legislation, increased
investigations and prosecutions, as well as increasing community awareness.
As noted above, there are more vulnerable members of our society which
traffickers target for exploitation. The evidence has highlighted that some individuals
on visas (particularly student visas, 457 visas for skilled workers, and
prospective marriage and partner visas) can be vulnerable.
It is important to make sure that individuals who apply for a visa to
enter Australia are made aware of their rights. Increased education and
awareness can act as a preventative mechanism to decrease the chances for exploitation.
The Committee therefore sees a benefit in ensuring that overseas
students, skilled migrant workers and prospective partners obtain appropriate
information on their rights. In order to make it accessible and understandable
the information should be translated into the visa applicant’s language and
provided as part of the visa application.
The Committee recommends that
the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, in conjunction with the Interdepartmental
Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery and relevant non-government
organisations, develop a fact sheet to provide visa applicants appropriate information on their rights as part of the visa application
process. The information should be available in the visa applicant’s language.