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People smuggling

Disrupting people smugglers who provide irregular entry to Australia by air and sea

About this crime

Under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), entering Australia without a valid visa is an offence.

People smugglers are individuals or groups who help others to enter a country illegally. In the case of Australia, people smugglers provide access by air and sea.

In addition, people smuggling creates:

  • serious security and criminal concerns when people arriving in Australia are not identified
  • major biosecurity and health risks
  • significant logistical problems and costs to process irregular immigrants
  • an ongoing risk for Australians and Australia's interests when our borders are not secure.

People smuggling is different to human trafficking

People smugglers are paid voluntarily by those who wish to come to Australia irregularly. Human trafficking can result in the ongoing exploitation of its victims. However, sometimes these lines are blurred as people can be trafficked during or after smuggling.

How we help

Operation Sovereign Borders

The major work against people smugglers in Australia is through the Joint Agency Taskforce, Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB).

As part of the Joint Agency Task Force OSB, we lead the Disruption and Deterrence Task Group. Our primary purpose is to stop people smugglers before they facilitate the transport of irregular immigrants by sea. This can prevent dangerous journeys over open waters.

Bali Process

People smugglers don't just operate in Australia. They have organised networks throughout Asia and the Pacific region. We share intelligence with neighbouring countries to effectively disrupt their operations. We do this using our international network and mechanisms, such as the Bali Process.

The Bali Process is a collaborative effort from over 50 countries and many international agencies. As part of the Bali Process, we help shape policy and share best practices.

Agency collaboration

Stopping people smuggling takes a whole-of-government approach. We collaborate with other government agencies on operational and policy-based responses to stop people smuggling. This means we work with:

How to report

If you have information about people smuggling, call Crime Stoppers on1800 333 000. You can remain anonymous when reporting information to Crime Stoppers.

You can also make a report by:

We administer the Maritime People Smuggling Domestic Rewards Scheme. Under the Scheme, we may pay a reward of up to A$200,000 for information or evidence about people smuggling. Your information must result in an arrest and conviction or show significant value in stopping a people smuggling operation. We'll also assess the reward to make sure it is transparent, comparative, equitable and fair.