The Australian Government launched 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.
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, Australians should:
- Be an informed volunteer
- Be a child safe volunteer
- Be a prepared volunteer