A 53-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man have received jail sentences of eight and six years respectively after being convicted of keeping a woman in forced labour at their Mount Waverley home in Melbourne for nearly nine years.
The couple were convicted of all charges in April, and on Wednesday sentence was passed by a Melbourne court.
Evidence before the court indicated that the couple kept the Indian women in squalid conditions where she was forced to cook, clean and care for the couple’s children over a period of almost nine years before she collapsed and was taken to hospital, weighing just 40 kilograms.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) began investigating the matter in September 2015 after receiving a referral from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (now the Australian Border Force), regarding a woman from India who travelled to Australia on a tourist visa.
Modern slavery offences may happen in plain sight
The AFP Human Trafficking Team commenced an investigation, which resulted in slavery charges being laid in June 2016.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the offending was hidden in plain sight.
“The AFP is appealing to any victims, potential witnesses, or communities impacted by human trafficking to know there are pathways to support,” Crossling said.
“We want the public to be aware that human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices are happening here in Australia, all too often without anyone in the community knowing.
“Our hope is that, for every case we investigate, it helps others experiencing similar conditions to speak up and seek our help.
Police say community must work together to help
“It is up to all of us to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to the exploitative crimes of modern slavery.”
The 53-year-old woman was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in four years. The 57-year-old man was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with parole eligibility in three years.
In June, a Sydney couple were given jail terms and ordered to pay reparations totalling $70,000 to their victim after being convicted of slavery-like offences for keeping a woman in forced labour at their home and business for over three years.
A 39-year-old woman was sentenced to serve three years and three months in prison with a non-parole period of 14 months and ordered to pay $45,000 in reparations to the victim. The man was sentenced to serve two years and six months in prison and ordered to pay $25,000 in reparations to the victim.