SA slavery examined on Human Rights Day

The push to have a human rights framework introduced in South Australia, which will also combat incidents of modern slavery, will gather momentum at a forum on Thursday December 10, scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day.

The online forum will feature Flinders University’s Associate Professor Marinella Marmo presenting information from a report showing that conditions during the disrupted COVID-19 work environment have resulted in some international students being subjected to extreme exploitation akin to slavery.

Associate Professor Marinella Marmo.

Associate Professor Marmo’s findings have been submitted a new report to the SA Wage Theft Committee – a joint submission with ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).]

This document, addressing the committee’s new terms of reference that includes modern slavery and COVID-19 impact, states that some international students are currently being exploited but say they are quite content with their overall situation – because they say the alternative is much worse, such as being subjected to heavy work in a farm, or having no job at all.

“Their reaction is a direct consequence of 2020 being a year affected by COVID-19 outcomes,” says Associate Professor Marmo.

“The pandemic has exacerbated extreme exploitation akin to slavery in SA across 2020. Some temporary visa holders, especially international students who arrived by February 2020, are now quite content to accept – with knowledge – below-standard labour practices.”

Due to COVID-19 distancing restrictions, the forum – “Time For A Human Rights Framework For South Australia?”, presented by Rights Resource Network SA – will be an online webinar, from 11.30am to 12.45pm on Thursday December 10. For Information and reservations to this free event, visit

As part of this forum, Associate Professor Marmo will present an introduction on Modern Slavery in South Australia and Human Rights, and panel sessions featuring an array of academic and industry experts – including Flinders University’s Alexandra Baxter – will deliver sessions on “The Economics of Modern Slavery: it’s everyone’s business” and “Rendering the Invisible Victim, Visible: the human side of modern slavery”.

This event comes amid other recognition of Associate Professor Marmo’s work into researching human rights and modern slavery.

The Hon Irene Pnevmatikos, chair of the SA Wage Theft committee, mentioned Associate Professor Marmo’s 2019 report on SA modern slavery in her recent speech delivered in SA Parliament. As part of her call for urgent action on #ModernSlavery in SA for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on December 2, Irene Pnevmatikos referenced Associate Professor Marmo’s report, along with an ABC article on COVID-19 impact on internationals students in SA as part of her speech, which can be viewed via @FacebookWatch (

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