Save the Children Australia and school adventure travel provider World Challenge, as part of their membership of the ReThink Orphanages Network, will tomorrow launch a suite of educational modules for teachers, to guide students in the areas of orphanage tourism, voluntourism and responsible travel – the first resource of its kind in Australia.
The group is also hosting a symposium on orphanage tourism to help schools, universities, and the general community, understand the complexities of this emerging issue.
More than eight million children live in institutions globally, even though about 80 per cent of these children have family who could care for them given the right support.
The “Ethics & Alternatives” symposium will share with attendees the best practices in protecting children overseas and how schools can ensure they’re helping and not harming.
Schools and universities from across Australia will be attending to find out how they can stop contributing to the supply chain of people, money and resources that drive the global orphanage industry.
In 2016, 14 per cent of Australian schools had an association with an orphanage overseas, and more than 50 per cent of all Australian universities advertised orphanage placements as part of their international volunteering opportunities.
Save the Children child protection advocate Karen Flanagan AM said tourism was creating a demand for ‘orphans’ and ‘orphanages’.
“We know children around the world are being exploited and removed from their families to fuel the rising demand for orphanage tourism, and we need to do everything we can to protect these children, and one of the best ways to do this is by raising awareness and reducing this demand,” Ms Flanagan said.
“Most of the students and schools involved with orphanage tourism are well meaning, and that is why we need a comprehensive approach to our awareness campaign on this issue.”
World Challenge has been working with orphanage tourism activist Leigh Matthews of ALTO Global Consulting for more than 18 months to ensure its student trips create a positive impact for both the local communities and the young people its works with.
World Challenge national sales manager Aaron Pittaway said the organisation was “hugely committed” to and motivated about running ethical and quality community engagement programs.
“Exactly what constitutes ethical student travel is changing rapidly and all student travel organisations should be evolving to reflect this,” Mr Pittaway said.
The event will also launch a Self Assessment Audit Tool for schools and universities to conduct due diligence on their overseas student engagement.
While keynote speaker Senator Linda Reynolds was unable to attend the conference she said the tool kit was yet another fantastic development in the fight against orphanage tourism and tafficking.
"We have come so far in a just few years because of the amazing collaboration between politicians, government departments, NGOs and various involved sectors such as travel and education sectors. But we still have a long journey ahead of us. We must continue working together to ensure children are never again used as tourist attractions."
For more details visit www.orphanagetourismconference.com.au
When: Friday August 24, 2018 9.30am to 3.15pm
Location: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
For interviews, call Alex Sampson on 0429 943 027