If you are in immediate danger or need police assistance urgently, call 000 in Australia or 112 wherever you are.
If you are not in immediate danger, and want to report a situation of Modern slavery, you can do so online. If you have not heard back after completing the form, or would prefer to talk to someone call:
131 AFP (131237).
If you would like to talk to someone, or have questions regarding reporting, feel free to reach out to us at Survivor Connections.

Reporting any crime can be traumatic and challenging, but reporting issues of Modern Slavery can be very confusing for a few different reasons:

  • Often survivors are not aware that they have experienced exploitation or a situation of modern slavery, and don’t know where to go for help.
  • Survivors are afraid of the police and immigration and fear they will be deported or punished themselves. Many people may fear getting in trouble if their perpetrator has forced them to do illegal things, or has put them in a situation of breaching visa restrictions.
  • Survivors may be afraid that reporting will put them, their loved ones, or the new life they are trying to build, at risk. People are afraid of what the perpetrator or police could do to them or their family if they report.
Two people sit facing each other in green chairs. The person on the left is touching the other on the knee as a supportive gesture. The person on the right is distressed and upset, holding their face in their hands and looking downward.
  • Sometimes survivors feel  a lot of shame about how they ended up in a situation of exploitation, or worry about the shame they might bring to their family if people find out.
  • It is difficult to explain to police what is happening/has happened because of language barriers.
  • Local police/law enforcement officials may not know the specific legislation or processes to refer and investigate issues of modern slavery.
A person sits next to someone in a wheel chair. The person in the wheelchair looks sad and has a confused speech bubble above their head.
  • Reliving experiences to give police statements and the investigation process can be very traumatic.
  • Survivors sometimes feel responsibility or guilt in causing problems for their perpetrator or other people that may be involved in the situation. There may be concern that police action could harm other victims or others connected with the perpetrator in the process.
  • Survivors feel they will not have the right evidence or that no one will believe them.
  • The process is very long, and it can seem pointless and overwhelming. Often police do not communicate with survivors about what is happening, and things can seem hopeless.

Tips for reporting

Not all survivors of modern slavery/trafficking/exploitation will want to, or be able to report to the police. At Survivor Connections we believe that every survivor should make the choice that is right for them.

If reporting what has happened to the police is important to you, and it is safe for you to do so, here are some things that we learned:

Start by making a report to the Australian Federal Police. You may have to make a separate report to state police about state offenses (assaults/state crimes etc), but the AFP is more trauma informed and experienced with situations of Modern slavery. They may be able to direct you as to the next steps. Try and take a support person with you – survivors have had different experiences with police and detectives, and sometimes found police were more professional and helpful if another person was there to support them. If you don’t know who to take, feel free to reach out to Survivor Connections. Ask for an interpreter to properly communicate with police if it makes things easier for you. If you must make a report to state police, your AFP detective may be able to help you liaise with State police, but sometimes complex institutional politics get in the way. This has nothing to do with you, but can be very distressing. Get support with following up your report. One of the biggest challenges in the reporting process can be a lack of follow up or communication from both state and federal police. It can be extremely disempowering. Working with a free legal service or a support person/service can help you feel more informed.

Barriers to prosecution

The most important thing to know, is that unfortunately, only a very small percentage of the reported crimes of modern slavery are currently prosecuted in Australia.

This does NOT mean you haven’t experienced trafficking or modern slavery. It just means that the threshold for prosecuting these crimes in Australia is not capturing most of the crimes outlined in the legislation right now.

It is unclear why this is the case, but here are some things that other survivors have been told about this issue:

A barrier

Detectives have stated...

that the threshold for prosecution currently centres around instances of physical restraint and movement across borders. According to the statics reported in the Legislative Review, crimes like deceptive recruitment and debt bondage have never been prosecuted in Australia.

A barrier

Survivors have been told...

that there is not enough evidence, or not the right kind of evidence.

A barrier

Survivors have been told...

that prosecutors have to meet a certain target in successful convictions to maintain their position and might not take cases where gaining a successful conviction is too tricky in the current system.

There has been no way to check that these reasons are real, but these are the reasons survivors were given when their cases didn't move forward.

Sadly, society often measures how valid an experience is, or whether someone is guilty by way of legal conviction. When that is not possible it can feel devastating.

You are not alone. Your experiences and pain are valid even if the legal system can’t respond to your situation.

One thing we do know, is that the more people are able to come forward, the more likely it is that these issues will be addressed. Many of us know we won’t see justice for ourselves, but we hope to stop others from experiencing the same.

Find out more about exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery:

Survivor Connections