Modern slavery figures 'barely scratch the surface'

Most victims of modern slavery in Australia are women aged 21 to 40 (Unsplash)

An Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans and Flinders University project into modern slavery in South Australia has found official figures on human trafficking “barely scratch the surface”. Source: The Advertiser.

Flinders University Associate Professor Marinella Marmo gathered stories of modern slavery in the state for the research and presented her findings at a forum on modern slavery yesterday.

She says official figures on human trafficking and forced marriage “barely scratch the surface” as victims are unwilling or unable to contact authorities.

With help from colleagues Alexandra Baxter and Dr Anne Tormey she investigated the scope of the problem in SA by talking to 10 service providers who work in risky areas, in a project funded by the university and ACRATH.

One service provider told her there was “almost a sense of entrapment” of workers in the city. Migrant workers and international students are particularly at risk.

“(The) Fair Work Ombudsman should be advised to run (a) comprehensive audit of businesses within a kilometre of the Adelaide Central Market,” the provider said. “There’s a tight hold kept on some employees by the fact they’re susceptible to deportation of the breach of their visa provisions.”

Police detected at least 15 cases of human trafficking last financial year, but Professor Marmo says the official statistics do not reflect what is happening.

Most victims are women – although women can also be perpetrators – and national figures show they’re mostly aged 21 to 40. Most come from Asia, while the peak country of origin is Thailand.

A University of Adelaide study earlier this year found across Australia worker exploitation had become “established norms” in parts of the labour market.

Temporary migrant workers and undocumented workers were the most at risk from “unscrupulous” labour hire contractors and growers, it found.

FULL STORY

Researchers find human trafficking and slavery in South Australia (The Advertiser)

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