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Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery is an issue in Australia, like much of the developed world. To give some context on the numbers for trafficking in the country, the Global Slavery Index (GSI) has estimated that 15,000 people are living in modern slavery in Australia. The GSI also estimated that Australia consumes about $A15.7 billion ($US12 billion) worth of goods made through modern slavery each year (Global Slavery Index). The Parliament of Australia has estimated that approximately 300 to 1,000 persons are trafficked in Australia annually. In 2020, the Australian government referred 212 suspected cases of trafficking for potential investigation, based on a 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S Department of State. (U.S Department of State). The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates that only one in five victims of human trafficking and modern slavery are detected (Australian Institute of Criminology). Anti-Slavery Australia, the only organization in Australia dedicated to ending modern slavery, has said modern slavery is “rampant” in the country (Special Broadcasting Service). All these reports present a concern with human trafficking and modern slavery currently in Australia.

In recent years, local and governmental organizations in Australia have taken increased action to fight human trafficking. The Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2018 and was adopted starting in 2019. This act requires organizations with a revenue of $A100 million in the year to submit an annual report to the government, in which they explain the chance of modern slavery in their operations, the actions they are taking to prevent modern slavery in their workplace and how effective those actions have been. Jennifer Burn, the Director of Anti-Slavery Australia, said that this legislation has increased awareness of human rights violations and abuses in the workplace (SBS News). The government introduced The National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-2025 in 2019 to eliminate modern slavery through training officials across the country and outreach programs in communities (SBS News). With this legislation being so new, it is not clear how effective this program has been, but this legislation is another example of the Australian government being proactive in eliminating modern slavery. Additional progress has been made in the last year with eliminating modern slavery. The first prosecution of a domestic slavery case in Australia happened in summer 2021(The Age).

The collective action taken has already made an impact on human trafficking and modern slavery in the country. With this combined effort by the Australian government and local organizations, the desire for change is evident.  In the future, we will see if these actions will continue to be effective and if human trafficking and modern slavery can be eliminated in Australia. In case of danger, (+61) 131 237 is the number for Australia’s human trafficking resource line and if you find yourself in any life-threatening situation, call 000, the Australian equivalent of 9-1-1.



“Australia – United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 5 Aug. 2021, https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/australia/.

Australian Institute of Criminology. “Estimating the Dark Figure of Human Trafficking and Slavery Victimisation in Australia.” Australian Institute of Criminology, 15 Feb. 2019, https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/sb/sb16.

“Australia’s Modern Slaves Are ‘a Real Mix’ and They Are ‘Suffering in Silence’.” SBS News, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-s-modern-slaves-are-a-real-mix-and-they-are-suffering-in-silence/a6a0fda3-7f3c-423c-b045-93c253d10873.

Cooper, Adam, and Simone Fox Koob. “Couple Jailed for Keeping Woman as a Domestic Slave.” The Age, The Age, 21 July 2021, https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/couple-jailed-for-keeping-woman-as-a-domestic-slave-20210721-p58bl4.html.

Dressember. “This Is the State of Human Trafficking in Australia.” Dressember, Dressember, 29 Apr. 2021, https://www.dressember.org/blog/the-state-of-human-trafficking-in-australia.

“Global Slavery Index.” Global Slavery Index, https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/.

@ProBonoNews, Blake. “Identifying Human Trafficking: The Power of Community Awareness.” Pro Bono Australia, 25 Oct. 2021, https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2021/10/identifying-human-trafficking-the-power-of-community-awareness/.

Posted March 3, 2022