Does slavery exist?

Yes. Slavery is happening right now around the world. It is likely that there are more people living in slavery and slavery-like conditions now than any other time in history.

Does modern slavery really happen in Australia?

Yes. It might not look like you expect it to, but it exists.

Does modern slavery mostly occur in the sex industry?

Modern slavery is found in a wide range of industries and locations, from labour exploitation on farms, in restaurants and domestic services.

Forced marriage is another kind of modern slavery, and one of the most common kinds of slavery reported to the Australian Federal Police.

Does slavery happen to men as well?

Yes. Globally, men account for almost 30% of people in slavery, in industries such as construction, agriculture and hospitality. The assumption that slavery only occurs to women can mask genuine experiences of slavery and prevent men from seeking help.

What is the difference between human trafficking and people smuggling?

Like trafficking, whilst both involve the illegal movement of people; trafficking involves the movement of people for the purposes of exploitation after their arrival in the destination country.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes states that one of the major differences between trafficking and people smuggling is that smuggled consent to the smuggling whilst trafficked people have either never consented or, if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abuse action of the traffickers.

For more information see: People smuggling versus trafficking in persons: what is the difference?

Are victims mostly subjected to slavery by strangers?

Not always. One of the most common kinds of modern slavery reported to the Australian Federal Police is forced marriage; this often occurs amongst family members. Additionally, people who are trafficked into Australia and exploited may have relied on the advice of a trusted relative or community member.

Would the underpayment of workers or substandard working conditions be considered modern slavery?

Modern slavery is only used to describe criminal exploitation. It does not include practices like substandard working conditions or underpayment of workers. However, these practices are still unlawful and harmful and may be present in some situations of modern slavery.

Is slavery most likely to occur in the production of clothing?

Slavery occurs in global supply chains for some of the most common place products in Western society. In addition to clothing production, slavery also occurs in the mining and manufacture of materials for mobile phones and computers, as well as fishing, cocoa and sugarcane farming.

Does slavery happen more in a particular geographical region in Australia?

Slavery occurs in every state of Australia, in rural and urban areas. Referrals to the Australian Federal Police do not suggest a particular region where slavery is more likely to occur. It is important to be aware that slavery is just as likely to happen anywhere.

Why do trafficked people find it difficult to get help?

Many trafficked people are socially, culturally and physically isolated. They usually have no money, nowhere to go and have had their travel and personal identity documents confiscated by their traffickers. Additionally, there may be language barriers.

Traffickers may threaten to report the trafficked person to the authorities or hurt the trafficked person or their family if they try to escape.

Traffickers often convince trafficked people that their situation will only deteriorate if they contact the authorities, such as being deported.

What can I do?

For confidential advice, call us on (02) 9514 8115 or email antislavery@uts.edu.au.

In emergencies or if you are in immediate danger call Triple 0 (000).

To report a possible crime of exploitation call the Australian Federal Police on 131 237 (131 AFP).

Are we doing enough to identify and support survivors of modern slavery?

No, and that’s where you can make a difference. Only 1 in 5 victims of modern slavery are detected in Australia, due to the clandestine nature of the crime and low awareness. It is crucial to start conversations about modern slavery so that people know it exists and how to spot it.

Does slavery affect me?

Slavery affects everyone. In particular, forced labour allows companies an unfair advantage over others with ethical practices, by allowing them to profit without properly paying their employees.

Isn’t global slavery too big an issue for me to tackle?

Small actions can have big effects. Choosing to buy products made ethically and sustainably has a real impact on a businesses’ profits and share value. Under Australian legislation, large businesses are required to publicly report what actions they are taking to reduce modern slavery in their supply chains. Reading up and buying ethically are small ways to make a global impact.

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