New campaign to tackle orphanage tourism

Chris Crewther MP, Federal Member for Dunkley and Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee, has welcomed the new campaign launched by the Australian Federal Government to tackle orphanage tourism and child exploitation around the world.

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Chris Crewther MP, Federal Member for Dunkley and Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee, has welcomed the new campaign launched by the Australian Federal Government to tackle orphanage tourism and child exploitation around the world.The Smart Volunteering Campaign, jointly launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, and the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, discourages Australians from any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in overseas orphanages and provides guidelines on how to be a child-safe volunteer.

The Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee, in their final report Hidden in Plain Sight: An inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, handed down in December last year, made a number of recommendations including establishing a register of approved orphanages and a national awareness campaign on the risks of orphanage trafficking.

The media release from Minister Bishop and Minister Birmingham remarked that ‘Australia has a long and proud history of volunteering… however some Australian volunteers have unwittingly contributed to harmful practices by participating in the “voluntourism” industry and engaging in orphanage tourism.’

When handing down the Sub-Committee’s report last year, Mr Crewther raised this as a key concern.

“We must ensure that the generosity of everyday Australians is not exploited by criminal elements,” Mr Crewther said.

“I encourage Australians who plan to volunteer overseas to be aware of this issue and ensure that their generosity is not being taken advantage of.”

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.

Mr Crewther said that “I’m thrilled that the Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee’s multi-partisan recommendations in the report are being embraced by the Government, and that the Turnbull Coalition Government is taking real action to eradicate the harm and reach of modern slavery in Australia and in our region.

“I also thank Senator Linda Reynolds, in particular, for her advocacy around the orphanage trafficking issue.”

Recently, the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Alex Hawke MP, announced that the Australian Government will introduce a landmark Modern Slavery Bill into Parliament by the middle of the year, following the Sub-Committee’s final report.

Assistant Minister Hawke, along with Social Services Minister the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, also announced funding for 200 days of support for victims of forced marriage through the Support for Trafficked People Program, without victims being required to contribute to a criminal investigation or prosecution.

The Foreign Affairs and Aid Sub-Committee’s final report on an inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia is available at the following link: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Foreign_Affairs_Defence_and_Trade/ModernSlavery/Final_report

See the full media release from the Foreign Minister here: https://foreignminister.gov.au/releases/Pages/2018/jb_mr_180301.aspx

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