The Australian Government is launching a new campaign to prevent Australians from inadvertently contributing to child exploitation through the practice of orphanage tourism, including by participating in misleading volunteer programs.
Message from the Minister for Foreign Affairs
When it comes to volunteering, Australians are generous people. Australian volunteers selflessly give their time, money and lend their skills and experience to help others across a range of countries and sectors.
Australia has a long and proud history of volunteering, with the Australian Government supporting international volunteering for more than 60 years.
We have learned over the years that when done well, volunteering will benefit both the volunteer and the communities they serve and build enduring friendships and people-to-people links.
Research has shown that orphanage tourism (holiday tours and short-term un-skilled volunteering at orphanages) can encourage harmful practices, and can, in some cases, put vulnerable children at risk. The number of orphanages in certain popular tourist destinations has increased dramatically yet many of the children living in them have at least one living parent. The quality of care varies dramatically. The worst orphanages retain and exploit children with the aim of making money. Orphanages should be an option of last resort for children, who are generally better off living with their families and communities.
For these reasons, the Australian Government discourages short-term, unskilled volunteering in orphanages.
When planning to volunteer overseas, I encourage Australians to:
- Be an informed volunteer
- Be a child safe volunteer
- Be a prepared volunteer
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs