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‘Troubling’: Woman allegedly kept as slave

Police have raided a home in Canberra. Picture: ACT Policing
Police have raided a home in Canberra. Picture: ACT Policing

Police have raided a home in a glitzy Canberra suburb following allegations a woman trafficked from South America was being kept as a slave.

Officers raided a residence in O’Malley and a business in Majura Park on Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged human trafficking.

The raids come after police were provided information in June alleging a woman had been trafficked from overseas to Canberra in early 2023.

Police have raided a home in a glitzy Canberra suburb following allegations a woman trafficked from South America was being kept as a slave. Picture: ACT Police
Police raided a home in O’Malley following allegations of slavery and human trafficking. Picture: ACT Policing

The woman detailed to police the horrific conditions she was allegedly subjected to, including being made to work seven days a week.

Officers were told by the woman that she was forced to work from 7am until late daily, cleaning, cooking and caring for children in the home.

The woman said she was not permitted to leave the home without being escorted and was not permitted to return to her home country.

The raids come after police were provided information in June alleging a woman had been trafficked from Columbia to Canberra in early 2023. Picture: ACT Police
Police were provided information in June alleging a woman had been trafficked from overseas to Canberra. Picture: ACT Policing

According to police, she claimed that she was provided minimal food and was paid cash well below minimum wage provisions, including for work at a Majura business.

ACT Policing Acting Superintendent Stephanie Leonard described the allegations on Friday as “very troubling”.

She said investigations into the allegations were ongoing and urged people to be on the lookout for human trafficking.

“I urge the Canberra community to be on the lookout for signs of human trafficking and slavery,” Superintendent Leonard said.

Investigations into the allegations are ongoing, Picture: ACT Police
Investigations into the allegations are ongoing, Picture: ACT Police

“Unfortunately, it is far more common than people may think.”

Clues to potential human trafficking include reluctance to travel, being denied access to ID, poor living conditions and rarely leaving the home.

The maximum penalty for trafficking persons in Australia is 12 years’ imprisonment.

O’Malley, a sought-after suburb in Canberra’s Woden Valley, is home to a number of embassies and diplomatic residences.