Support groups working with trafficked people are urging the community to be aware of the signs, after a 17-year-old girl was allegedly held as a sex slave in a Sydney house.
Source:
SBS World News
19 May - 1:03 PM  UPDATED 19 May - 3:19 PM

The rescue of a 17-year-old West African girl allegedly brought to Australia and sexually exploited has again drawn attention to human trafficking in Australia. 

The Australian Federal Police says modern day slavery can take many forms, including forced labor, servitude, debt bondage, forced marriage, sex trafficking and organ harvesting.

People from Asia - mainly Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia - are at particular risk of being trafficked into the country.

The national manager of the Salvation Army project Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, Jenny Stanger, said there were around 4,300 people enslaved in Australia -  but by the end of 2016 the Australian government had officially only identified 311 victims.

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Teen girl from West Africa held as sex slave in Sydney house: police
A 17-year-old West African girl held captive and used as a sex slave in a Sydney house for weeks before escaping was helped by a Good Samaritan, police say.

What does modern slavery look like?

The Freedom Partnership says a modern slave in Australia could include someone who cleans your car, takes care of your neighbour's children, cooks the food in your local restaurant or is forced into sex work.

Ms Stanger said victims are often manipulated and threatened into staying silent.

"More and more often we're seeing the control used over people is really psychological and manipulation by being lied to and threatened, and that can include threats to family members in home countries where people might be coming from," she said.

Ms Stanger said the Salvation Army service supported people rescued from slavery - often migrants and those on temporary visas, who feel trapped.

"That could be in the construction industry or agriculture, or in a restaurant or in a bakery, or in a dry cleaners or a nail salon, or in the sex industry or in domestic work," she said.

"There are many, many kinds of work sites and situations where people can be exploited for someone else."

What are the signs a person may be a victim of trafficking?

The AFP says there are a number of signs a person may be a victim of slavery or slave-like conditions.

These include:

  • Not having access to identity documents such as a passport;
  • Not having an employment contract and not being able to terminate employment at anytime;
  • The person works very long hours with little, if any, time off and is always in the presence of their employer;
  • Physical injuries consistent with assault or unsafe work practices.

Ms Stanger urged people in the community to be aware of signs that may indicate a person is being isolated.

"If you see someone being kept inside or not able to socialise or have normal social relations in the community, particularly in the context of domestic work," she said.

Ms Stanger said many of her service's clients were trafficked into Australia as domestic workers.

"Sometimes people in the community can see them - they can see that they never leave the house," she said.

She added sometimes trusting your instincts may also be helpful.

"Sometimes it's actually a gut feeling, you have a sense that something is wrong," Ms Stanger said. "I would encourage people to ask people in the community if they're ok, reach out to them."

In 2013, the federal government passed anti-slavery, forced labour and human trafficking legislation to target employers taking advantage of people.

Last October, the federal government established a Migrant Workers' Task Force to deal with the exploitation of migrant workers in Australia's workplaces.

Who to contact?

If you are aware of, or suspect someone has been trafficked, contact the Australian Federal Police on 131 237, or via the Human Trafficking, Sexual Servitude and Slavery Information report form on the Australian Federal Police website.

Contact with the AFP can be anonymous.

In the case of an emergency, dial 000.

You can also call the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

READ MORE
Threats, abuse of power, demands for sex – modern slavery is happening in Australia
Comment: Forms of exploitation amounting to modern slavery are happening in Australia, writes Heather Moore, and we need community awareness and accountability to combat it.
What does modern slavery look like?
Australia shares the UK's ranking for modern slavery, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.
Comment: Too many Australians remain unaware slavery exists in the ‘lucky country’
Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of support networks, limited understanding of Australian workplace relations, or simply a desperation for income.

INSIGHT (2016): Fair Work, Fair Pay