Revealing the Face of Modern Slavery


Meet the faces behind these growing statistics: Lin, Rani, Han and Fatima. *

Their stories are snapshots of suffering that with assistance from ACRATH they have each found a path towards safety, and a future filled with possibilities. (* names and identifiers have been altered to protect the person’s privacy)

By supporting ACRATH, you aren’t just donating money; you are contributing to the elimination of modern slavery and human trafficking in Australia. Your funds help provide critical resources and opportunities as outlined in these stories. Your generosity empowers survivors to rebuild their lives.

Rani – Freedom Through Knowledge

Meet Rani, a 17-year-old student from a high school in Melbourne. When her parents informed her that they were taking her overseas to marry a man she had never met, Rani felt she had no choice but to comply and thought her fate was sealed.

An ACRATH member visited her school and delivered a presentation where Rani learned that forced marriage is illegal in Australia and, that she had the right to choose her own husband. Empowered by this timely information, Rani realised she had an option she never knew existed.

Since 2005, ACRATH’s dedicated members have reached thousands of students across Australia, delivering life-changing presentations on the realities and illegalities of forced marriage, among other critical issues related to modern slavery. Armed with knowledge, many young individuals have been able to take action, protect their rights, and shape their own destinies.

According to the Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare forced marriage has been the most reported form of modern slavery to the Australian Federal Police in every year since 2015–16.

Join us in our mission to enlighten, empower, and eliminate forced marriages and other forms of modern slavery. You can help us continue our crucial work, ensuring that young people everywhere have the knowledge and support they need to make their own choices and live freely.

Fatima – From Forced Labour to Freedom

Meet Fatima, who found herself trapped in a nightmare. Employed as a housekeeper at a consulate in Sydney, Fatima was subjected to forced labour for months without receiving any wages. Isolated within the consulate’s walls, she endured the harsh reality of modern slavery.

Through social media Fatima reached out for help and connected with a police officer who assisted her. After her escape, a community refugee organisation recognized her situation and sought ACRATH to provide further support.

ACRATH offering essential assistance to Fatima and connected her with a law firm that provided pro-bono legal representation. Fatima also joined the ACRATH Companionship Program, where she received ongoing support from a dedicated Companion. Through this program, she found the strength and encouragement she needed to rebuild her life.

Fatima pursued education, enrolling in TAFE courses. Her journey of recovery and empowerment has been long, but she has steadily reclaimed her independence and her future.

The issue of forced labour remains a significant concern within the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Australia. It is estimated only one in five people are reported. Each report represents a real person with a story not unlike Fatima’s—people who need help.

Fatima’s story is of hope and a reminder of the impact that coordinated community efforts can have. Your support for ACRATH enables us to continue providing critical assistance to victim/survivors like Fatima, offering them the resources and companionship they need to reclaim their lives.

Han worked on a government department building site in Canberra for many months. He was employed by a contractor who disappeared with the wages owed to Han and his co-workers. ACRATH was contacted by a community organisation about the wage theft and met with officials from the CFMEU Construction Union in Canberra to see what could be done for Han. The workers joined the union, which then took on their case and managed to retrieve the wages in full.

ACRATH works with unions and civil society to achieve just outcomes for exploited workers. An important landmark in recent years (2021) was the success of a four-year battle for justice for 22 men from Vanuatu, who were exploited on farms in Australia when they came to work as part of the Seasonal Worker Program.

Judge Jarrett in the Brisbane federal circuit court in his 2017 judgement called the treatment of these workers on farms in Australia ‘egregious’. As a result of the multiple representations over several years, the Australian government agreed to offer the people exploited in Australia an Act of Grace; this was in recognition of the fact their wages and airfares were stolen from them by a labour hire company while they were on the Seasonal Worker Program, a program which forms part of Australian aid to the Pacific.  One requirement for the Act of Grace is that it needs to address a mistake in an Australian government program.

The years of advocacy involved a partnership with Allens, an international law firm, civil society colleagues, and at least 38 people in Parliament and departmental roles. It brought the men the money they were owed, acknowledging stolen wages and airfares, but it has had two other significant effects. It has built ACRATH’s credibility in standing with the disempowered and staying the course, and it has raised the issue repeatedly that forced labour needs to be addressed in the employment of seasonal migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation.

ACRATH spoke to a group of priests in Western Australia about forced marriage and other modern slavery issues. After the presentation a priest raised the alarm about a man, he knew of, who had travelled to an East African country and returned to Australia without Lin, his teenage child. The priest was concerned that there seemed to be little explanation of the child’s whereabouts and no mention of her return. He inquired after her and was told she was a very ‘difficult’ teenager.

ACRATH, with support from the priest, contacted Australian Federal Police who began investigating the case. Exit trafficking is a crime in Australia.

In 2022–23 there were 30 reports of exit trafficking (a person coercing, forcing or threatening another to leave Australia against their will). The AFP secured its first exit trafficking conviction in 2021, charging a Sydney man who used threats, coercion, and deception to force a woman and her child to return to India. The man was jailed for 21 months.

There are thousands of people like Rani, Fatima, Han and Lin.
With your help they can be offered support and services.

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