Modern slavery describes some of the most serious violations of human rights, including trafficking in persons, slavery, servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, the worst forms of child labour and deceptive recruiting for labour or services.
Modern slavery is at the extreme end of a continuum of exploitation and often involves the gradual undermining of a person’s freedom, through coercion, threats, and deception. It occurs in every country in the world including Australia. The International Labour Organisation estimates there are close to 50 million people in modern slavery conditions worldwide, with up to 41,000 people estimated to be living in conditions of modern slavery in Australia.
Watch Lina's story to learn more about modern slavery risks in Australia.
As a higher education institution dedicated to the education and empowerment of future generations, addressing modern slavery goes to the moral heart of what we stand for as an institution.
Our vision at the University of Sydney is for each and every one of us to play a part, whether it’s through our world-leading research, our education offerings, or by striving for an ethical supply chain in our operations, we are committed to protecting human rights and contributing to the global effort to eradicate modern slavery. Together we are well placed to have a positive impact.
In response to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2018, the University has established the Modern Slavery Unit, a dedicated expert team aimed at addressing modern slavery as well as driving collaboration and change with key stakeholders.
Read more about our university wide approach.
Watch a message below from Professor Stephen Garton AM, Principal Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor, outlining what the University is doing to address modern slavery.
Young people, including students, are at a heightened risk of experiencing modern slavery both in Australia and overseas.
Students are particularly vulnerable to being exploited in the workplace, especially those who have fewer immediate support networks, lower English language proficiency, work in the gig economy, or are unaware of the workforce laws in Australia.
COVID-19 is compounding the likelihood of exploitation in the workplace, for all young people, whether international or domestic.
Worker exploitation can occur in the form of:
Exploitation like this is often an indicator that more perverse practices including slavery may be present. Modern slavery may include:
Due to the covert nature of the crime and low awareness it is estimated that most victims of modern slavery go undetected in Australia. It is important that people are aware that modern slavery exists, that they talk about it and that they know how to recognise the signs.
Here are the main signs according to Anti-Slavery Australia:
Everyone working in Australia or planning to work in Australia has rights relating to minimum wages, work conditions and your treatment at work. These include:
Working rights. You can learn about your working rights on Fairwork Australia. They offer useful factsheets which outline your minimum rights at work, responsibilities and entitlements under Australian workplace laws. It’s important to also understand what is not ok such as undertaking unpaid work trials, or not being given a payslip by your employer.
Protections against slavery and slavery-like offences. Every worker in Australia has protections in place against deceptive recruitment practices, servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage and slavery like offences. You can find out more about this on the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions website.
International student rights in the workplace. You can find out more about your rights in Australia, your visa requirements and where to access help at the Study Australia website. The Fair Work Ombudsman also has answers for frequently asked questions. Go to the Department of Education for information on your rights in different languages.
Right to protection from exploitation, violence and abuse - you should check the Australian Attorney General’s Department for information on protection from exploitation, violence and abuse.