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Cult leaders/cultic groups may contravene any of the following International, Australian, or State Legislation (NSW Acts used as examples here): ​​

  • Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth): (Tax fraud):

    • s.134.2(1) - Obtain financial advantage by deception.

    • s.135.4(3) - Dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth.

  • Competition and Consumer Act (2010) (Cth) False or misleading representations; misleading and deceptive conduct; and/or unconscionable conduct.

  • Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act (2009) (Cth) - Working for the cult leader/cultic group without being paid adequate remuneration, annual leave loading or superannuation.

  • Crimes Act 1900 (NSW):

    • Part 3 Division 9 s 61 - Common assault.

    • Part 3 Division 8 s 59(1) - Assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

    • Part 3 Division 8 s 59(2) - Assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company.

    • Part 3 Division 14 s 86(1)(b) - Detain for advantage/kidnapping.

    • Part 3 Division 14A - Procuring for prostitution: s 91A Procuring etc; and s 91B Procuring person by drugs etc.

    • Part 4 Division 5 s 116 - Larceny [Theft]

    • Part 4AA Fraud Division 1 Preliminary 192B(1) - Deception.

    • Part 4AA Division 1 s 192D(1) - Obtaining financial advantage; or s 192D(2) - Causing financial disadvantage.

    • Part 4AA Division 2 s 192E(1) - Fraud – A person who, by any deception, dishonestly - (a)  obtains property belonging to another, or (b)  obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage; and s 192E(2) – A person’s obtaining of property belonging to another may be dishonest even if the person is willing to pay for the property.

    • Part 4AA Division 2 s 192G - Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement.

    • Part 4AA Division 2 s192H(1) - Intention to deceive members or creditors by false or misleading statement of officer of organisation.

    • Part 4AD Division 2 s 195(1) - Destroying or Damaging Property.

    • Part 4B s 249K(1)(a) - Blackmail Offence.

    • Part 5A s 307A(1) - False or misleading applications.

    • Part 5A s 307B(1) - False or misleading information.

    • Part 5A s 307C(1) - False or misleading documents.

    • Part 14A Division 2 s 545B(1) - Intimidation or annoyance by violence or otherwise.


In International law, the three elements to Human Trafficking are:

a) recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person;

b) through means such as threat or use of force, coercion, deception, or abuse of power or vulnerability;

c) for the purpose of exploitation.

“Exploitation” can be forced labour or sexual exploitation.

If you are a victim of trafficking or know someone who is, contact the AFP on 131AFP (131237) or use the online form to report information regarding human trafficking.


  • Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth): Divisions 270 and 271:

    • Slavery (s 270.3(1) 

    • Servitude (s 270.5(1) and s 270.5(2)) 

    • Forced labour (s 270.6A(1) and s 270.6A(2)) 

    • Deceptive recruitment and coercion (s 270.7) 

    • Debt bondage (s 270.7C) 

    • Domestic trafficking in persons (s 271.5(1) and s 271.5(2)) 

    • Slavery-like offences – aggravated offences (s 270.8)


Division 270 of the Criminal Code criminalises offences relating to slavery, which is defined in accordance with the 1926 Slavery Convention. In The Queen v Tang [2008] HCA 39, the High Court found that in Australia, slavery is not limited to 'chattel slavery', and that the critical powers exercised were:

  • the power to make each woman an object of purchase

  • the capacity to use the women in a substantially unrestricted manner for the duration of their contracts

  • the power to control and restrict their movements

  • the power to use their services without commensurate compensation.


The Criminal Code criminalises servitude, which is defined in subsection 270.4(1) as the condition of a person who provides labour or services and who, because of the use of coercion, threat or deception, would not consider himself or herself to be: (a) free to cease providing labour or services, or (b) free to leave the place where the person provides labour or services, and who (c) is significantly deprived of his or her personal freedom.

Forced labour

Subsection 270.6(1) of the Criminal Code defines forced labour as the condition of a person who provides labour services and who, because of the use of coercion, threat or deception, would not consider himself or herself to be free: (a) free to cease providing labour or services, or (b) free to leave the place where the person provides labour or services.

Debt bondage

Debt bondage is defined in the Criminal Code as occurring when a person pledges his or her services or the services of another person as security for a debt if the reasonable value of those services is not applied to repay the debt or if the length and nature of the services is not defined.


The definition of “violent extremism” by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department is: “the beliefs and actions of people who support or use violence to achieve ideological, religious or political goals. This includes terrorism and other forms of politically motivated and communal violence. All forms of violent extremism seek change through fear and intimidation rather than through peaceful means. If a person or group decides that fear, terror and violence are justified to achieve ideological, political or social change, and then acts accordingly, this is violent extremism.”

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) refers to two categories of Violent Extremism:

  1. “Ideologically motivated violent extremism”:

    • denotes support for violence to achieve political outcomes or in response to specific political or social grievance/s. Motivations can be:

      • nationalist and racist;

      • anarchist and revolutionary; or

      • specific issue.

  2. “Religiously motivated violent extremism”:

    • denotes support for violence to oppose or achieve a specific social, political or legal system based on a religious interpretation.


ASIO is seeing a growing number of individuals and groups that don’t fit on the left-right spectrum at all; instead, they’re motivated by fear of societal collapse or a specific social or economic grievance or conspiracy.


Terrorist acts and related offences are further defined in the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (1995).

These include:

  • acts or threats of violence that are done to advance a political, ideological or religious cause, either in Australia or overseas;

  • acts or threats of violence that are done to intimidate the public or a section of the public.

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