Melbourne couple allegedly kept domestic slave at Point Cook home
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A couple has been charged with modern-day slavery offences after they allegedly kept a woman as a domestic slave at their home in Melbourne’s south-western suburbs for about 10 months.
A healthcare worker raised the alarm with authorities last October after noticing the woman was “exhibiting indicators of human trafficking”.
Federal police officers escort the 44-year-old man after his arrest.Credit: Australian Federal Police
Australian Federal Police alleges the woman was kept in domestic servitude at the Point Cook home from January and until October 2022, when federal officers swooped on the property following the tip-off.
Officers allege the 44-year-old man and 29-year-old woman exercised coercive control over the victim, limited her movements and physically assaulted her.
They have been charged with possessing a slave, using coercion and threats to cause a person to enter and remain in servitude, and exercising control over a slave. They will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
AFP Detective Superintendent Simone Butcher said federal officers relied on members of the community such as healthcare professionals to report suspected cases of modern slavery, including child labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, forced labour and servitude.
“Everyone can play a role in stopping human trafficking. We encourage anyone who suspects human trafficking or sees something suspicious to report it,” Butcher said.
“Without the assistance of the community – in this case healthcare professionals – victims might go undetected, and we would not be able to provide victims the help and support they need.”
Butcher said AFP actively trained first responders, healthcare professionals and members of the public to identify signs of human trafficking and slavery.
A Global Slavery Index report released in London on Wednesday found the number of people living in modern slavery in Australia had more than doubled in the past four years amid a rise in the number of migrant workers coming to the country to ease labour shortages getting exploited.
While Australia has better protections than other nations in the Asia Pacific region and globally, the report commissioned by international human rights group Walk Free estimated that on any given day in 2021, there were 41,000 people living in modern slavery nationwide.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking or slavery offences, you can make a report to the AFP by calling 131AFP (131 237).
Information and confidential advice is also available from the Australian Red Cross, by calling (03) 9345 1800 or visiting its website.
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