Slavery-like offences are set out in Division 270 Subdivision C of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (Criminal Code)

Servitude is defined in s 270.4 of the Criminal Code:

“the condition of a person (the victim) who provides labour or services, if, because of the use of coercion, threat or deception:

(a) a reasonable person in the position of the victim would not consider himself or herself to be free:

(i) to cease providing the labour or services; or

(ii) to leave the place or area where the victim provides the labour or services; and

(b) the victim is significantly deprived of personal freedom in respect of aspects of his or her life other than the provision of the labour or services.”


It is an offence under s 270.5 of the Criminal Code to:

  • Cause a person to enter into or remain in servitude; and
  • Conduct a business involving servitude.

Each offence carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.


Prior to the passing of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Act 2013 (Cth), the offence of servitude was narrower and encompassed only sexual servitude. This is reflected in the servitude cases that had previously gone before the criminal court. The definition now provided by s 270.5 of the Criminal Code significantly broader, allowing for greater application and prosecution of slavery and slavery like acts.