New 'Dark Figures' Reveal Extent Of Human Trafficking And Slavery In Australia

Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has revealed thousands of cases of human trafficking and slavery victims in Australia.

Quantifying and capturing just how widespread modern slavery is, has been difficult for Australian authorities.

Until now.

This report -- prepared by the AIC with the Walk Free Foundation -- shows there were between 1300 and 1900 victims of modern slavery from 2015-2017.

Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Linda Reynolds, told 10 daily the report will hopefully "allow Australians to understand what modern slavery is".

The numbers come from a statistical technique called 'multiple systems estimation' (MSE), which estimates hidden or hard-to observe populations.

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Human trafficking and slavery are related concepts that involve practices that exploit or abuse someone physically or psychologically for profit.

Common forms of human trafficking include bonded and forced labour, exploitative child labour, sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, forced marriage, involuntary domestic servitude and child soldiers.

The AIC report looks at the 'dark figure' of human trafficking and slavery, meaning the unknown volume of these crimes due to their clandestine nature.

The number of actual human trafficking and slavery victims in Australia from 2015-2017 is considered to be between 1,342 and 1,897.

The majority of observed victims in Australia are adults, with a 'substantial increase' in forced marriage cases since 2013.

Reynolds said forced marriage in Australia is controversial due to "cultural sensitivities" but her own view on the issue is clear.

"These girls have no liberty. They have no choice, no freedom. They're basically baby-making, sexual machines in the house," she said.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) referrals since 2013. Image: Australian Institute of Criminology.

"If their family is supportive of the situation, there is nowhere for them to go."

Yet for every victim detected, four go undetected, according to the research.

Reynolds -- who carried the Modern Slavery Bill through the Senate --  is "particularly passionate" about orphanage trafficking.

Reynolds was made aware of the issue during a visit to Cambodia three years ago, where she asked local authorities what "well-intentioned but naive" Australians could do to help.

"They said, 'please stop your people coming to visit these orphanages'. These children aren't orphans -- they're in for-profit institutions designed to exploit them and take tourists' money."

Reynolds said Australia's Modern Slavery Act 2018 is the first step in an "enormous problem".

The bill is focused on 3000 of the country's largest organisations, from the Federal Government to corporations.

"What the bill is forcing them to do is look through their supply chains and make sure they are slavery-free. Every company will find slavery somewhere."

Over 40 million people worldwide are trapped in some form of modern slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation.

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