Human trafficking

Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour and forced marriage are complex crimes and a major violation of human rights.  Around the world men, women and children are trafficked for a wide range of exploitative purposes, such as:

  • Servitude
  • Slavery
  • Forced labour
  • Debt Bondage
  • Forced marriage, or
  • Organ harvesting

Australia is primarily a destination country for people trafficked from Asia, particularly Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.  Australia's slavery, slavery-like and human trafficking offences are set out in Division 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.

Human Trafficking and People Smuggling

Human Trafficking is different to People Smuggling:

  • Human trafficking is the physical movement of people across and within borders through deceptive means, force or coercion.  The people who commit human trafficking offences are motivated by the continuing exploitation of their victims once they reach their destination country.
  • People Smuggling is the organised, illegal movement of people across borders, usually on a payment for service basis.

If you are a victim of trafficking or know someone who is, contact the AFP on 131AFP (131237) or use the online form to report information regarding human trafficking.

Signs a person may be a victim of trafficking

The following points may indicate that a person is a victim of human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices:

  • the person appears to be servicing a large debt to their employer or a third party;
  • the person does not possess their passport or travel/identity documents, which are with their employer or a third party, and the person is unable to access these documents when they wish to do so;
  • the person does not have a labour or employment contract/agreement , or they do not understand the terms or conditions of their employment;
  • the person is unable to terminate their employment at any time;
  • the person is subject to different or less favourable working conditions than other employees because he/she comes from overseas;
  • the person never or rarely leave their accommodation for non-work reasons;
  • the person is living at the place of work or another place owned or controlled by their employer;
  • the person has little or no money or no access to their earnings;
  • the person has physical injuries which may have resulted for assault, harsh treatment or unsafe work practices;
  • the person is always in the presence of their employer, who does not want or allow the worker to socialise with others;
  • the person works excessively long hours and have few, if any, days off
  • the person regularly between different workplaces, including interstate.

Signs that a person may be in, or at risk of, a forced marriage

The following may indicate that a person is in a forced marriage, or at risk of being made to enter into a forced marriage:

  • the person has a family history of elder siblings leaving education early and/or marrying early;
  • the person is subject to unreasonable or excessive restrictions from their family, such as not being allowed out or always having to be accompanied;
  • the person expressed concern regarding an upcoming family holiday;
  • the person has extended absence from school, college or the workplace, or begins to display truancy or low motivation;
  • the person shows signs of economic or dowry abuse;
  • the person displays signs of depression, self-harming, social isolation and substance abuse;
  • the person has limited career choices or their parents control their income; or
  • there is evidence of family disputes or conflict, domestic violence, abuse or running away from home.

Read more: Human trafficking and slavery indicators

Reporting human trafficking

Assist the AFP in combating this global problem. Use our online form to report information regarding human trafficking for the purposes of sexual and/or labour exploitation, organ harvesting, forced marriage and slavery or call 131 AFP (131237).

An Australian Government Department or Agency can make a report of an allegation of criminal conduct to the AFP National Operations State Service Centre (NOSSC).

In case of an emergency, call 000.

Further resources

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2021-22

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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