"the lengths he will go to find us and harm us."
CCTV footage captured a human trafficker forcing a mother and her daughter to board a plane to India.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) released the footage on March 30, 2021, to raise awareness of human trafficking crimes in Australia.
It showed a visibly distressed woman arguing with a man at Sydney International Airport.
Anti-Slavery Australia informed the AFP that the mother had been threatened and forced to India against her will.
This prompted the launch of Operation Eastwater in 2017.
The 29-year-old man from Lidcombe had bought a one-way ticket for the woman to travel from Sydney to India in March 2017.
The victim later told police that the human trafficker threatened to kill her if she did not get on the plane.
After she landed in India, the man contacted Australia’s Department of Immigration and gave false information about the victim in a bid to have her banned from returning to Australia.
However, the woman managed to return to Australia two months later and contacted Anti-Slavery Australia.
It was then referred to AFP’s Human Trafficking team.
After police raided his home in September 2017, the man was served with a court attendance notice.
Two months later, he was arrested at Sydney International Airport trying to board a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.
In January 2021, the man was jailed for 21 months in what was Australia’s first conviction for an exit human trafficking offence.
In a victim impact statement, the woman constantly fears that the human trafficker could track her and her daughter down.
She said: “Because of his actions, I live in constant fear and stress knowing the lengths he will go to find us and harm us.
“This fear and stress impacts my physical, emotional and mental health.
“I have to be careful about who we talk to and where we go, to make sure that our private information is not shared with him.
“I am very careful when I leave the house. I avoid leaving the house unless absolutely necessary.
“Because of his actions and threats, I am constantly worried about my daughter.
“I am always thinking about how to keep my daughter safe. This is very stressful for me.
“Ordinary things like going out to the shops or to the park has become more difficult because I fear for our safety.”
Watch the Shocking CCTV Footage
The CCTV footage has now been released to raise awareness of the issue. AFP Commander Hilda Sirec said victims are often scared to come forward.
“Human trafficking is not often discussed or even considered to be an issue in Australian society.”
“It is often unreported, but the reality is that Australia is not immune to human trafficking and victims in our communities are suffering in silence.
“It is thanks to brave people like the woman involved in this matter that our investigators were able to work with her to see justice done.
“AFP investigators in our human trafficking teams work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of all victims who come forward and seek an escape.
“Their cases are handled with compassion and great care.
“Our partnerships across the sector, including with NGOs, are crucial in ensuring this often hidden crime comes to the surface, is talked about and the signs are understood.
“Without the community’s help, it’s very difficult for our investigators to take appropriate action and help victims of human trafficking.”
Commander Sirec added that human trafficking is often a “hidden crime” and it is important to recognise any signs that a person may be at risk of being trafficked.
In December 2020, the AFP launched the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25.
Between 2019 and 2020, the AFP received 223 reports of human trafficking and slavery offences.