Migrating for work and study: The role of the migration broker in facilitating workplace exploitation, human trafficking and slavery


Temporary migrants play an important role in Australia’s workforce and student population. Little is known, however, about the migration mechanisms temporary migrants use and the associated risks these may involve.

This paper examines the role of migration brokers in alleged and finalised cases of migrant exploitation ranging from low pay and hazardous working conditions to more severe forms involving debt bondage, forced labour and other slavery-like practices.

This paper presents a typology of two kinds of migration broker—the migration facilitator and the labour supplier—developed from these case studies. Points of intervention are discussed with reference to these types, as is the effectiveness of various responses to the actions of migration brokers in preventing and detecting human trafficking, slavery and slavery like practices. These responses may overlap with responses to other serious crimes such as immigration fraud, corruption, extortion and people smuggling.