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Safe House support for victim-survivors of forced marriage

5 December 2021

Safe House support for victim-survivors of forced marriage

The Trafficking and Slavery Safe House supports the women in a caring and encouraging environment.

Words Claudia Cummins

The Salvation Army established Australia’s first Trafficking and Slavery Safe House for victim-survivors of human trafficking and slavery-like conditions in 2008. Women impacted by forced marriage can also access help and residential or outreach support at the Safe House (to read Cate's story, click here.)

The Safe House provides supported accommodation and case management for single women (cis and trans) over 18. Outreach case management support can be provided to women, men, families, and young people living in the community.

Since lockdown in Sydney ended in October, the Salvos have seen increased referrals to the Safe House. “This has been partly due to victim-survivors re-engaging with services and sharing their experiences of slavery-like offences that have occurred throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Claudia Cummins, Safe House program manager. “There has also been an increase in young people contacting the service due to being at risk of an upcoming forced marriage. 

“In the past fortnight alone, we have had several young women self-refer. They’ve been very concerned that now the borders are reopening, and international travel is resuming, they may be forced by their parents to go ahead with a marriage, including some that may take place overseas.”

Support for people who have experienced forced marriage, or are at risk of being forced into marriage, is available. “It is crucial that anyone who expresses a fear of forced marriage knows that they have the right to not go ahead with that marriage, no matter how much pressure they may be under,” Claudia emphasised. “Services are available to support them with safe accommodation, financial support, and well-being if they need to leave the family home to avoid being forced into a marriage they do not want.” 

The intensive case management support model at the Safe House covers nine key areas: physical health, mental health, legal services, education and training, employment, housing and tenancy, social support and living skills, human rights and self-advocacy, and spirituality.

Claudia Cummins is the program manager for The Salvation Army Trafficking and Slavery Safe House.

Getting help in Australia

In emergencies, call 000 for immediate response

If you or someone you know is at risk of being forced to travel overseas for marriage, or you want to report your experience to police, call the Australian Federal Police on 131 237.

The Salvation Army Trafficking and Slavery Safe House:

To access support and for confidential advice, call 1300 473 560 or email 

For more information and support services through Anti-Slavery Australia, call 02 9514 8115, send a message 0481 070 844, email or check out

Signs of forced marriage

It can be difficult to identify the signs of forced marriage, and you should seek help and advice as soon as possible. It is important that you always act in the best interests of the person in, or at risk of, forced marriage and that you are always mindful of their safety as well as your own.

Sudden announcement

That the person is engaged and doesn’t seem happy about it.


They suddenly leave school, university, or work.


They spend a long time away from school, university, or work, for no reason.


They have run away from home.


There is evidence of family violence or abuse.


Their older brothers or sisters stopped going to school or were married under the age of 18.


They are never allowed out and usually must have someone else from the family with them.


They show signs of depression, self-harming, drug or alcohol abuse.


They seem scared or nervous about an upcoming family holiday overseas.

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