Hospital health provider experiences of identifying and treating trafficked persons

Dr Doris Testa1

1Social Work, Melbourne, Australia, 2Victoria University, Footscray, Australia

Over the past 20 years, human trafficking (“trafficking”) has generated much public attention throughout the world. The problem has received growing media coverage and increased anti-trafficking activism. Additionally countries have created new policies, laws, and enforcement mechanisms to tackle the problem. This micro level study examined the lived experiences of 22 health and allied health workers situated within St Vincent’s Health Australia’s Melbourne facility, and reports on their identification, assessment, treatment, and outreach to trafficked persons. The results indicated that trafficked persons were predominantly invisible within the health setting. When practitioners did suspect trafficking, they considered themselves as lacking the professional skills and knowledge, or the clear organisational policy or procedures to confidently identify and manage the complex health needs of the suspected trafficked persons. The findings contribute to St Vincent’s Health Australia’s goal of formulating contextually appropriate policy and practices that will assist in the identification of and response to the health needs of trafficked persons.


Dr Doris Testa is a Senior Lecturer within the Social Work Department at Victoria University, Melbourne. Having experience within both the education and social work sectors, Dr Testa’s areas of interest are focused on student achievement and student wellbeing and teaching and learning .  Other areas of research and interest are cultural humility, modern day slavery and human trafficking.

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