An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


The Government of Australia fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.  The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Australia remained on Tier 1.  These efforts included increasing funding for victim support services, prosecuting and convicting child sex tourists, establishing a pilot survivor advisory council, and initiating a review of its visa framework to identify vulnerabilities to trafficking and anti-trafficking laws.  Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not adequately screen vulnerable groups, including domestic workers, international students, and migrant workers, for trafficking indicators and it identified even fewer victims.  It also did not convict any perpetrators under its anti-trafficking law, and overall the number of cases law enforcement pursued remained disproportionately low compared to the scope of the crime.

  • Significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes pursuant to anti-trafficking laws, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, which should involve significant prison terms.
  • Investigate and prosecute labor trafficking under anti-trafficking laws instead of as labor or employment violations.
  • Significantly increase efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as undocumented migrants, asylum-seekers, agricultural and hospitality industry workers, visa holders, and domestic workers, and refer victims to care.
  • Further decouple the provision of services to victims from participation in the criminal justice process and increase services available to victims unable or unwilling to participate in the criminal justice process.
  • Amend the statutory definition of trafficking under the criminal code to not require movement of the victim as an element of the crime.
  • Train police, immigration officials, and other front-line officers, both offshore and onshore, to recognize indicators of trafficking and proactively respond to suspected cases of both sex and labor trafficking.
  • Establish the National Labour Hire Registration Scheme with sufficient compliance tools.
  • Train judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials on the application of trafficking laws, elements of trafficking, investigative techniques, evidence collection specific to trafficking cases, and alternatives to victim testimony.
  • Conduct initial screening interviews with potential victims in a safe and neutral location and in the presence of a social service professional.
  • Establish a national compensation scheme for trafficking victims.
  • Implement or fund awareness campaigns for individuals vulnerable to forced labor, particularly among rural communities and migrant populations, including international students.
  • Strengthen efforts to prosecute and convict Australian child sex tourists.
  • Increase efforts to investigate and hold accountable foreign diplomats posted in Australia suspected of complicity in trafficking.

The government maintained mixed law enforcement efforts.  Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, when read together, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking.  Inconsistent with international law, the definition of “trafficking” under Division 271 required the element of movement of a victim.  However, Division 270, which criminalized “slavery,” “servitude,” and “forced labor” offenses, could be utilized to prosecute trafficking crimes that did not involve victim movement.  Division 271 prescribed penalties of up to 12 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving an adult victim and up to 25 years’ imprisonment for those involving a child victim.  These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.  Division 270 prescribed penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for slavery, up to 15 years’ imprisonment for servitude, and up to nine years’ imprisonment for forced labor.  These penalties were all sufficiently stringent.  The government initiated a review of Divisions 270 and 271; it remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period.

In 2022, the government referred 193 cases of suspected trafficking crimes for possible investigation, compared with 150 cases the previous year.  Authorities prosecuted 16 alleged traffickers, compared with seven the previous year.  Authorities continued prosecutions of 47 defendants, including 33 child sex tourists, initiated in prior years.  Authorities closed four of the cases because of insufficient evidence due to a lack of victim testimony and dismissed one appeal; 42 prosecutions remained ongoing.  In 2022, the government prosecuted 369 defendants and convicted 323 defendants for online child abuse, some of which included online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) cases; this was the first year the government provided this information.  Courts convicted three child sex tourists, compared with four convictions in 2021.  Courts did not convict any traffickers under Divisions 270 or 271, compared with convicting four traffickers under these laws the previous year.  Courts sentenced the three child sex tourists to sentences ranging from two years and three months’ to eight years’ imprisonment.  Authorities pursued labor, immigration, or employment violations in lieu of trafficking charges, which may have resulted in suspected traffickers receiving only fines and other civil penalties that were inadequate to deter trafficking crimes.  The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes.

The Australian Federal Police Human Exploitation Command was the lead agency for trafficking investigations.  The government worked with foreign agencies to investigate OSEC cases and to strengthen foreign counterparts’ law enforcement capabilities to combat human trafficking crimes.  The government trained police, labor inspectors, immigration officers, prosecutors, and health care and community front-line workers on a variety of topics, including human trafficking investigations, evidence and information collection, anti-trafficking enforcement policies and laws, victim identification and referral, and victim support services.  In addition, the government trained government officials to identify, assess, and mitigate modern slavery risks in procurement processes.  In the same report, prosecutors raised concerns with inconsistent interpretation, understanding, and application of human trafficking and slavery crimes among prosecutorial and judicial officials.  The government reported the pandemic caused judicial delays which may have adversely affected the government’s ability to convict traffickers.

The government decreased efforts to protect victims.  Authorities identified 13 victims, including one child, compared with identifying 34 victims the previous year.  Authorities reported using a list of trafficking indicators and a referral protocol to identify and refer trafficking victims to services.  Authorities identified most victims through referrals from community members, health care facilities, task forces, and NGOs.  Observers reported authorities often linked trafficking to migration and inadequately screened for indicators of trafficking in the agricultural and hospitality industries and among offshore migrants.  Despite persistent reports of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and multiple trafficking indicators among foreign workers in Australia under the auspices of the Working Holiday Visa scheme and the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, authorities did not report proactively screening for trafficking indicators among such workers.  The government did not report screening seasonal workers who left their employer for trafficking indicators, which may have resulted in authorities detaining and deporting unidentified trafficking victims.  Observers reported some victims may have been reluctant to communicate with law enforcement officers due to fear of deportation and the existence of language barriers.

Authorities provided formally identified and potential trafficking victims with accommodation, living expenses, legal advice, health services, vocational training, and counseling through the Support for Trafficked People Program (support program).  Authorities referred 13 victims to the support program; this compared with referring 34 victims in the previous year.  The government also assisted 20 cases involving an unspecified number of potential Australian trafficking victims abroad, compared to 10 victims the previous year; these cases may have included victims of forced marriage and individuals vulnerable to forced marriage.  The government allocated 3.35 million Australian dollars ($2.28 million) from the federal budget to the support program in the 2022-2023 funding year, compared with 2.84 million Australian dollars ($1.93 million) during the 2021-2022 funding year.  Only the police had the legal authority to refer victims to the support program; in recent years, experts reported this requirement prevented some victims from accessing support services.  The support program had five “streams” that officials tailored to the needs of the victim.  The assessment and intensive support stream assisted victims for up to 45 days, irrespective of whether they were willing or able to assist with the investigation or prosecution of trafficking cases.  The extended intensive support stream allowed for an additional 45 days of access to the program on a case-by-case basis for victims willing to assist with the investigation or prosecution but not yet able to do so for reasons including age, ill health, trauma, or a practical impediment.  The government automatically offered children who were potential trafficking victims access to the extended support program.  The temporary trial support stream assisted victims providing evidence for a prosecution.  The justice support stream aided victims until authorities finalized their case investigation or prosecution.  The forced marriage support stream provided those in or at risk of forced marriage – who may or may not have been trafficking victims according to international standards – with up to 200 days of support and did not require participation in an investigation or prosecution.  In the past, NGOs reported some support services for victims were contingent on participation in law enforcement investigations and the government would cease provision of services when investigations ended.  If an adult victim was unable or unwilling to participate in an investigation or prosecution, once the 45 day assessment and intensive stream ended, the government relied on NGO service providers to refer the victim to other nongovernmental support services.

The government allowed victims to provide video-recorded testimonies; the government reported no victims chose to do so.  The government provided temporary and permanent visas to eligible victims.  In 2022, the government provided four temporary stay visas to foreign trafficking victims, compared with 18 victims in 2021.  Fewer than five individuals were granted permanent “referred stay” visas, the same as in 2021; some of these cases may have been victims of forced marriage rather than trafficking.  The government did not report ordering any traffickers to pay restitution to trafficking victims and the government did not have a national victim compensation system for crime victims; victims relied on civil proceedings to access compensation.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking.  The Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Branch within the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) led the government’s domestic response to trafficking; the AGD was the chair of the Australian Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery (IDC), which coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking policy framework and led implementation of the 2020-2025 NAP.  The government, in partnership with an NGO, established a pilot survivor advisory council, which included survivors of labor exploitation, as part of a government funded NGO-led Lived Experience Engagement Program; the survivor council provided guidance on government policies, including the legislative review process of Divisions 270 and 271.  The government conducted awareness campaigns targeting visa holders, government officials, and the public.  Observers noted many migrant workers did not know their workplace rights and, in the previous year, observers in Pacific Island countries reported many migrant workers did not fully understand their offers or conditions of employment prior to arriving in Australia, despite reportedly receiving and reading their letter of offer and employment before arrival.  The government reported it conducted pre-departure briefings in the workers’ home countries and languages.  The government funded an academic institution to develop data instruments to evaluate NAP progress and conduct research projects focused on victim support barriers and the role of online applications in human trafficking.

The government established MOUs with the governments of Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste on migrant worker protections and included a provision on the prevention of modern slavery in private and public sector supply chains in its Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.  In March 2022, the government ratified ILO PO29 – Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.  The Modern Slavery Act 2018 required businesses and entities with annual revenue of 100 million Australian dollars ($67.98 million) or greater to publish an annual modern slavery statement detailing their efforts to combat modern slavery in their supply chains and operations, among other provisions.  The government published its third Modern Slavery statement, in compliance with the act, and updated the publicly available online registry of all submitted statements.  The government conducted 70 educational engagements with businesses to support the understanding and completion of the act’s requirements.  However, observers noted the act provided no financial or criminal penalty to companies for non-compliance, and a majority of companies that submitted reports failed to fully address the mandatory reporting requirements of forced labor risks in their supply chains; in an analysis of 92 company statements published in the second reporting cycle of the Modern Slavery Act, an NGO concluded only a third of companies took action to address modern slavery risks in their supply chains.  Several NGOs urged the government to strengthen its enforcement framework of the act and require companies to take steps to prevent forced labor.  The government initiated a statutory review of the act to assess its effectiveness.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) prioritized the prevention of potential labor exploitation – including human trafficking – among migrant workers, particularly in the agriculture and horticulture industries, and conducted awareness campaigns targeting domestic workers and international students.  The FWO imposed administrative fines against employers for workplace violations, including in some cases that involved trafficking indicators.  In the past, an NGO reported the government did not effectively monitor and enforce labor laws in rural parts of Australia, heightening risks of forced labor.  Domestic workers within Australia – especially in the state of Western Australia or those lacking a contract – remained vulnerable to exploitation due to the lack of clear protective oversight mechanisms relevant to these populations.  The government has not yet implemented a recommendation from the February 2019 Migrant Workers Taskforce Report to create a national Labour Hire Registration Scheme requiring recruitment agencies in designated high-risk industries to register with the government and employers to use only these registered agencies.  Authorities implemented similar registration schemes in Queensland and South Australia in 2018, Victoria in 2019, and the Australian Capital Territory in 2021.  The government did not report an update to the “Protecting Migrant Workers” Bill 2021; the legislation purportedly aimed to increase protections for non-Australian workers and introduced new criminal offenses related to coercing migrant workers to accept work arrangements to fulfill visa requirements.  In the Working Holiday Visa program, the government’s requirement of completing 88 days to obtain a second-year or third-year visa remained a key driver for coercion among visa holders.  The government did not implement a recommendation from the September 2021 Select Committee on Temporary Migration in Parliament’s report to remove the 88-day requirement with respect to farm work to be eligible for a second or third Working Holiday Visa.  In June 2021, the government had removed the 88-day requirement for British citizens as part of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement; however, the requirement remained for all other nationalities.  The government, in an effort to protect Working Holiday Visa holders, amended the Migration Regulations 1994 to establish an identification mechanism to identify employers who may pose a risk to the safety of the visa holder.  The government encouraged visa holders who breached their work-related visa conditions due to workplace exploitation to seek help from the FWO under the Assurance Protocol, who could refer them to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to prevent their visa from being cancelled; however, the government reported if the visa holder did not want to assist in an investigation into the workplace exploitation, they would not be given a referral to the DHA for assistance.  Observers reported the process was inadequate to protect workers, some of whom may have been unidentified trafficking victims, and temporary visa holders were hesitant to use it out of fear of visa cancellation.  Authorities reported using a standard process to screen individuals prior to deportation for trafficking indicators.

Under the PALM, workers’ employment and immigration status were tied to a specific employer; observers noted this increased migrant workers’ vulnerability to forced labor.  Observers reported an insufficiently regulated migration agent system and complicit migration agents enabled traffickers to circumvent the immigration system and exploit victims; state police reported concern about the issue but noted they lacked authority to address national migration matters.  The government, in response to a media investigative series, established a specialized unit of law enforcement officials, led by the Australian Border Force, to investigate corrupt migration agents, identify vulnerabilities in the immigration system, and identify and support trafficking victims who are temporary visa holders within the commercial sex industry.  In addition, the government initiated a review of its visa framework to identify vulnerabilities; the review remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period.

The government operated a national police hotline to report various crimes, including human trafficking, but did not report the number of cases initiated or victims identified from calls to the hotline.  The government worked with foreign governments by engaging in anti-trafficking dialogue, sharing information, conducting trainings, funding programming and research, and providing technical assistance.  The government restarted welfare checks on foreign domestic workers of foreign diplomats.  Australia maintained policy and legislative frameworks to prevent, detect, disrupt, investigate, and prosecute child sexual abuse and exploitation, including crimes that occurred online, within Australia and overseas.  The government made efforts to reduce the demand for participation in international sex tourism by its citizens by publishing materials for passport applicants outlining the application of Australian child sex trafficking laws to Australians overseas.  The government cancelled 59 passports, which was the fourth year the government implemented this legal authority; authorities did not report denying any passports to registered child sex offenders, compared with cancelling 67 and denying seven passports in the previous year.  In addition, authorities provided 109 notifications to foreign counterparts regarding traveling Australian and foreign national child sex offenders.  The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts within Australia.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Australia, and traffickers exploit victims from Australia abroad.  Traffickers exploit women and men in forced labor and women and girls in sex trafficking.  Traffickers exploit a small number of children, primarily teenage Australian and foreign girls, in sex trafficking within the country.  Some women from Asia and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Europe and Africa migrate to Australia to work legally or illegally in a number of sectors, including commercial sex.  After their arrival, traffickers compel some of these women to enter or remain in commercial sex in both legal and illegal commercial sex establishments, as well as massage parlors, motels, and private apartments.  Traffickers hold some foreign women – and sometimes girls – in captivity and exploit them through physical and sexual violence and intimidation, manipulate them through illegal drugs, and force them to pay off unexpected or inflated debts.  Traffickers attempt to evade authorities by allowing victims to carry their passports while in commercial sex establishments and frequently moving the victims to different locations to prevent them from establishing relationships with civil society or other victims.  Traffickers isolate foreign women and girls from Australian women to inhibit information sharing about rights, regulations, and work standards in commercial sex establishments; foreign women and girls are likely uninformed about legal commercial sex laws and regulations and are more vulnerable to sex trafficking.  Some victims of sex trafficking and some women who migrate to Australia for arranged or forced marriages are exploited by their husbands or families in domestic servitude.

Unscrupulous employers and labor agencies exploit some men and women from Asia and several Pacific Islands in forced labor in agriculture, cleaning, construction, hospitality and tourism, and domestic service.  An investigation by the FWO found that some fraudulent foreign contracting companies exploit farm workers in bonded labor.  There are cases of forced labor and other forms of exploitation in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, where victims (often foreign migrants and often from Asia) are threatened against leaving their jobs or seeking help.  Traffickers may exploit temporary migrants, including individuals on working holiday visas and international students, in forced labor, especially when based in remote regions with limited access to support.  Some identified victims are foreign citizens on student visas who pay significant placement and academic fees.  Unscrupulous employers may coerce students to work in excess of the terms of their visas, making them vulnerable to trafficking by exploiting fears of deportation for immigration violations.  Migrant workers may lack awareness of Australian workplace laws, access to health care, legal protections available to the domestic workforce, and support due to volatile employment and uncertain visa conditions, as well as language barriers; they are more vulnerable to trafficking.  Employers may legally discriminate against certain temporary visa holders, which limits the number of jobs available to workers and increases their vulnerability to exploitative work conditions.

Some foreign diplomats allegedly exploit domestic workers in forced labor in Australia.  Changes in 2019 to entitlements for diplomats in Australia may have slightly reduced the overall number of foreign domestic workers in the country.  Instances of forced labor in domestic service are sometimes undetected or unacknowledged by authorities and thus not captured in official statistics.  Reports indicate some migration agents urge migrant workers to move to Australia under false visa applications, including to engage in the commercial sex industry, increasing migrant workers’ vulnerability to trafficking.  Reports also indicate more than a dozen Australian education providers knowingly help South Korean women enter Australia on false student visas to work in the commercial sex industry, increasing their vulnerability to sex trafficking.  Traffickers exploit men in forced labor in the fishing and maritime industries; some fishing vessels that transit or dock at Australian ports use physical abuse to force men to perform labor.  Victims of domestic servitude in Australia work in extremely isolated circumstances with little to no oversight or regulation.  Asylum-seekers, detained for attempting to reach Australia by sea or waiting in country for application decisions, may have increased vulnerability to forced labor or sex trafficking due to displacement, economic instability, and lack of access to basic resources and community support networks.  Reports show heightened risks of child sexual exploitation, some of which may be child sex trafficking, which may be due to pandemic-related economic impacts.  Reports show an increase of Australians engaging in OSEC since the start of the pandemic, particularly involving child victims in the Philippines.  A small number of Australian residents may facilitate and engage in commercial sex and child sex tourism abroad, including in Thailand.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future