Orphanage Trafficking, Modern Slavery and the Australian Response

Kathryn E. van Doore and Rebecca Nhep - Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity

Orphanage trafficking is fast becoming a highly profiled form of child trafficking involving the transfer and recruitment of children into orphanages or institutional care for the purpose of exploitation and profit. In 2018, the Australian government stated that they were leading the world in recognising orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery under the newly enacted Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth). This article describes how orphanage trafficking occurs as a process of child trafficking. It then clarifies that whilst orphanage trafficking is a form of modern slavery, orphanage tourism and child institutionalisation are not. The article then considers Australia’s recognition of orphanage trafficking as modern slavery, and the limits of that recognition. To maintain the growing momentum on curbing orphanage trafficking, the article argues that Australia needs to ensure that ensure that orphanage trafficking is criminalised as an offence. The article makes two alternative recommendations to achieve this. The first is to amend the elements of the current legislation on trafficking in Australia to ensure that orphanage trafficking is encapsulated. The second is for the Australian government to explicitly criminalise the offence of orphanage trafficking.