Woman allegedly held as slave for years
A FIJIAN woman who was allegedly trafficked into forced labour for a couple in suburban Brisbane has spoken through tears in a Queensland court.
The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, spoke of the eight years she allegedly worked on call around the clock for a couple while she was in Australia illegally.
She told the Brisbane District Court of how she was unable see a doctor, had an untreated hole in a tooth that kept her awake at night in pain, and often ate alone after making dinner for the family.
She said at one time she had to clean up after a visiting grandmother, who had dementia, had soiled herself.
She said she rarely made calls to her family in Fiji because the couple warned her they were expensive.
The court was told the woman had been "imported" as a live-in worker from Fiji by a Tongan couple who felt a servant was missing from their lives after moving to Australia in 2006.
The accused couple, Isikeli Feleatoua Pulini and Malavine Pulini, are on trial for human trafficking and forced labour offences in relation to allegedly bringing the woman to work in their Brisbane home for about $250 per fortnight from 2008 to 2016.
The couple pleaded not guilty to the trafficking and forced labour charges today but guilty to harbouring an unlawful non-citizen.
In his opening address, crown prosecutor Ben Power told the court the woman lived hidden from plain sight, with neighbours oblivious of her alleged forced labour in suburban Brisbane.
Mr Power said the alleged victim had initially worked as a domestic servant for the pair in Tonga in the early 2000s, earning about $90 to $170 a fortnight.
But in 2006, Mr Pulini and Ms Pulini secured work in Australia as a civil engineer and public servant respectively.
Mr Power said the couple allegedly arranged for the woman to travel to Australia twice on a tourist visa.
Upon the woman's second arrival in 2008, the Pulinis allegedly took her passport and said they would use it to get her an Australian visa.
Mr Power said the woman feared asking for her passport back and it was not returned until 2013, after it had expired.
He said the woman felt depressed as the years wore on, allegedly working on call around the clock, before she escaped in 2016.
The woman gave evidence for more than two hours.
The jury is yet to hear from the defence, who are expected to cross examine the woman later today.
The trial is expected to continue for most of the week.