Philippines woman enslaved by couple in Australia

·2 min read
Joshua and Shiela McAleer. (Source: Shiela McAleer/Instagram)
Joshua and Shiela McAleer. (Source: Shiela McAleer/Instagram)

A woman from the Philippines who was recruited by a Sydney couple to work in Australia ended up enduring slave-like treatment in the family’s home and businesses for three years.

Shiela and Joshua McAleer admitted guilt to several charges including conducting business involving forced labor, harboring an unlawful non-citizen and making a false statement for health benefits.

The couple is facing a maximum of 10 years in jail. They will be sentenced in June.

The husband and wife have offered to pay $70,000 as compensation to the woman they enslaved.

The victim, who can’t be named, was lured by the couple in 2013. Hoping for a better life, she flew into Australia with a tourist visa, which didn’t allow her to get a job.

But as soon as she arrived, the Filipina worked as a cleaner and carer for the couple’s children for long hours.

The illegal immigrant’s passport was confiscated after her three-month visa expired and was told she could not return to the Philippines until she had repaid her travel expenses.

In 2015, the woman was also forced to work, always supervised, in the couple’s grocery and eatery stores for six to seven days a week.

The victim managed to escape the McAleers in 2016 but they hired a private detective to track her down. She was also threatened by the couple saying they knew people in the “higher up” and in the police who could “harm” her or her family in the Philippines.

Shiela McAleer is described by the victim as “cruel”.

“I felt like a slave but didn’t say anything… I had no power to change my situation,” she said in her statement. “I did not know when I came that I would have to work 24 hours a day. I did not get paid for my work.”

“I feel it would have been better not to come [to Australia].”

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