Reports of Human Trafficking and Slavery to AFP reach new high

Reports of human trafficking and slavery to the AFP have increased to the highest ever-reported in new statistics released today, United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDATIP).  

‘Use and Abuse of Technology’ is the 2022 theme for WDATIP and focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking.

During the pandemic, many people turned to technology to stay connected with loved ones, for work and for education. Unfortunately, perpetrators of human trafficking have adapted and are increasingly using technology to recruit, threaten and coerce victims for the purpose of exploiting them.

In the 2021-22 financial year, the AFP received 294 reports of modern slavery and human trafficking, an increase from 224 in the previous financial year.

Of the 294 reports of human trafficking or slavery made to the AFP in the last financial year the five most reported crime types were:

  • 84 reports of forced marriage,
  • 54 reports of sexual servitude and exploitation,
  • 42 reports of forced labour,
  • 37 reports of exit trafficking in persons,
  • 21 of trafficking in children

As part of the AFP’s commitment to combatting human trafficking and slavery offences in Australia, the AFP is using technology as a tool to counter these crimes and has developed a training and awareness program, entitled “Look-a-Little-Deeper” to help state and territory police and other Commonwealth agencies recognise signs of human trafficking and slavery type offences in the community.

AFP Commander Hilda Sirec said the roll out of the “Look-a-Little-Deeper” program to other agencies was a first in Australian law enforcement.

“This is the first time in Australia’s history where the uptake of a unified training and awareness-raising protocol to combat human trafficking and slavery will be delivered across all frontline agencies and jurisdictions,” Commander Sirec said.

“This represents a critical step to addressing the scourge of human trafficking in the Australian community and it’s a job the AFP and our partners will work together to combat.”

Australian Ambassador for Human Trafficking and People Smuggling, Ms Lucienne Manton, said the Australian Government was committed to combatting human trafficking both at home and abroad.

“The rising reports of human trafficking remind us that no country is immune from human trafficking,” Ambassador Manton said.

“The use of technology can enable human trafficking, but it can also be used in innovative ways to prevent human trafficking. It is critical that we work together to identify the ways technology can be used to disrupt traffickers and support survivors.”

The Australian community also has an important role to play and anyone can come across indicators of modern slavery and human trafficking, which include:

  • appearing to be under the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others,
  • not having access to personal identification,
  • appearing frightened, withdrawn, or showing signs of physical or psychological abuse,
  • having no access or control of their earnings,
  • showing signs their movements are being controlled.

If you suspect that you or another person is experiencing, or at risk of, modern slavery or human trafficking, call 131 AFP (237) or use the AFP’s confidential online form. If you have immediate concerns for your safety, the safety of another person, or there is an emergency, dial Triple Zero (000).

A list of signs to identify potential human trafficking and slavery in Australia are available on the AFP website: https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/crime-types/human-trafficking

Notes to media:

  1. Human trafficking and slavery is a global problem and exists in Australia.
  2. Victims of human trafficking and slavery can be of any age or gender.
  3. You have a right to choose if you marry, who you marry, and when you marry.
  4. Stopping human trafficking and slavery is everyone’s responsibility.
  5. If you think someone may be a victim of human trafficking and slavery, or something is not quite right, call the AFP on 131AFP (131 237).

Recognise the Indicators. Know what to do.

The National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25 sets the strategic direction of the Australia Government’s work to combat modern slavery over the next five years.

The Support for Trafficked People Program is a key component of Australia’s response to support victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, and is delivered nationally by the Australian Red Cross.

If you or someone you know is being exploited, help is available. For information and confidential advice please contact Australian Red Cross. Call (03) 9345 1800 or visit redcross.org.au/stpp.

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