On 12 April 2019, Malavine and Isikeli Pullini became the first offenders to be convicted of forced labour offences by an Australian Court. Whilst both defendants pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of harbouring an unlawful citizen at the commencement of their Queensland District Court Trial, a jury ultimately held that both Malavine and Isikeli were guilty of forced labour offences. Malavine was also convicted of the additional offence of human trafficking.

In 2008, the Pullinis brought a Fijian woman (name withheld) who had previously worked for them in Tonga to work in their home because a “live-in domestic servant” was “missing” from their life in Australia. The Fijian woman arrived on a tourist visa and had her passport immediately confiscated by Malavine. The Pullinis had promised the victim that they would assist her in obtaining a long-term visa. The victim was forced to work long hours as a domestic servant, receiving only $150 to $250 per fortnight. The victim’s duties included being the nanny, maid and cook. The Court heard that the Pullinis never intended to legitimise the Victim’s visa status and instead intended to make her more vulnerable.

In sentencing, Judge Leanne Clare describe the crime as “callous” and “calculated”, noting that the Pullinis treated the victim like a servant who was made to feel of little value. Her Honour highlighted how the couple exploited the victim’s poverty and desire to be in Australia and how the imbalance of power was heightened because of the woman’s illegal immigration status.

Malavine was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment whilst Isikeli received a 5 year prison sentence.

Case Citation

R v Pulini & Pulini [2019] QCA 258