Did you know that two years ago, Australia did not have a law against forced labour, servile marriage, organ harvesting or harbouring of persons? As a result, human trafficking still exists today.

Sally Irwin, Founder of The Freedom Hub and Scalable & Saleable member, says because of this gap in legislation it was difficult to prosecute human traffickers or gain a full scope of the extent of slavery across the country. Currently, the slave index estimates 3,000 slaves but according to Sally, “No one really knows the full extent.”

The one thing that Sally does know, is that, even if it is just one person trapped against their will, her organisation, The Freedom Hub, will fight for them and help them reestablish their life in freedom.

Sally founded The Freedom Hub after realising the extent to which slavery occurs in Australia. The Freedom Hub has made it their personal mission to give survivors of slavery within Australia, an opportunity to rebuild their lives so that they are able to live on purpose and pursue their own dreams without being dependent on government welfare.

They do this through a Survivor School that trains and equips students with skills for integration, confidence and work readiness. With a volunteer base running the school, they can only help limited survivors, so in order to grow they are opening a cafe this November in Waterloo, Sydney which will help fund our administrative costs and allow them to grow and help more survivors.

The Freedom Hub needs to raise $100,000k to get their cafe off the ground and help enable survivors of slavery rebuild their lives. Click here to find out how you can help today.

We spoke to Sally to find out more about the inspiration for her business and the impact she is having in survivors’ lives.

1. What inspired you to launch The Freedom Hub?
The Freedom Hub was basically birthed out of the frustration; the shock that human trafficking was happening in Australia and the growing gap between what the government is able to offer and the needs of the people who have been victims of this crime. With the government funding cuts for TAFE, their survivor school is well positioned to help rebuild the lives of survivors of human trafficking. They offer tailored classes free of charge that rebuild survivor’s confidence, teach them about Australia, enhance their communication skills and get them work-ready.

2. What response do people have when they find out human trafficking is happening in Australia?
Most people are shocked as they have no idea it’s happening, or if they do know it happens, they think it’s all happening in the sex industry, however, slavery isn’t limited to that. Our survivors have been trapped in many industries including retail, hospitality, building, farming, beauty, domestic labour and the big one right now is, servile marriage.

3. Do you believe it’s possible for Australia to stop this from happening?
I think we have a better chance than most countries because we have good border control and we don’t have high levels of poverty, corruption and organised crime that many countries in the world have.

4. How has The Freedom Hub helped survivors of slavery in the past?
Just this year, we have had three survivors trained and equipped to be confident enough to move out of a refugee into their own home. When they start with us they are often insecure, have little confidence in themselves and are not really sure who to trust. We spend up to 6 months giving them individualised classes that help with their language and confidence.

We take them on educational outings to teach them independence and more about our country. Once trust and self confidence are more established, we talk to them about their dreams and goals in life. We want to give them hope for a great future so we work hard to establish a training and employment pathway that will help them achieve those goals.

One of our survivor’s dream is to work with children. After her initial 6 months of language training, we fundraised the $6000 she needed to do a Child Care Certificate at TAFE, we organised work experience with children a couple of hours a week and we have established a partnership with Good Start to employ her for a one year transition period once she has completed her studies. Our goal will be to find business partners in every industry so we have a well-managed training pathway that sees each survivor transitioned to living successfully. Basically, we have become the stepping stone between rescue and re-employment.

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5. Would you define The Freedom Hub as a charity or a business?
Technically, The Freedom Hub is a charity, but in reality, we look more like a business because we are using current disruptive business principles to market our organisation, engage consumers and establish strategic business partners. I think of our business model as being a ‘marketplace solution enterprise’.

We are ‘social innovators’, changing the traditional way of running a ‘charity’, raising funds and involving people. We deliberately, have no government funding, so we have the freedom to meet our survivors’ needs, help them achieve their dreams and engage business people and local communities to facilitate this successfully.

So our funding is based on the generosity of people who want to see alternative solutions succeed and lives changed. We run regular fundraising events, but once we have our cafe opened, Sydneysiders can also be solution-oriented by just having coffee or lunch with us!

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6. What are your plans for the next 6 – 12 months?
This year’s goal is to get that cafe built and opened by November – we actually need to raise another $50,000 to $100,000 do that well! Next year, we aim to double the amount of survivors we transition for success; and grow the cafe and retail business to cover, at least, our administrative costs. The year after, we would like to expand interstate.We have no shortage of vision and opportunities as we are the only organisation in Australia fulfilling this role.

Sally has been part of our 700-strong Scalable & Saleable community for over a year. It is an honour to be part of Sally’s journey and witness her pursue a business venture in the pursuit of change, rather than the pursuit of profit. Get behind Sally today by contacting The Freedom Hub.