Joint media release with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop
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.
The Smart Volunteering Campaign discourages Australians from any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in overseas orphanages and provides guidelines on how to be a child-safe volunteer.
Australia has a long and proud history of volunteering. For decades, thousands of Australians from all backgrounds have given their time and skills selflessly to help communities overseas. The work of our volunteers builds skills and supports economic growth in developing countries.
However, some Australian volunteers have unwittingly contributed to harmful practices by participating in the “voluntourism” industry and engaging in orphanage tourism.
Last year, the Australian Parliament, through the hard work of individuals like Liberal Senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds, and Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee, Federal Member for Dunkley, Chris Crewther, acknowledged trafficking and slavery in orphanage tourism as an important issue.
The Smart Volunteering Campaign encourages Australians planning to volunteer overseas to:
Be an informed volunteer: Avoid short-term, unskilled volunteering in orphanages.
Be a child-safe volunteer: Avoid any activity where children are promoted as tourist attractions.
Be a prepared volunteer: Do your homework to ensure you are making a positive impact in the local community.
The Australian Government will work with states and territories and universities to ensure school groups and students are not unwittingly visiting or volunteering in programs that exploit children.
This work will help to ensure the good intentions of so many Australians are fulfilled through positive actions that protect them and vulnerable children overseas.