In 2013, research revealed a direct relationship between the increase in tourism numbers and the increase in the number of orphanages in developing nations. Now, the Australian Federal Government has announced a plan to divert Australian volunteers from foreign orphanages that exploit fake orphans for profit. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has declared a campaign involving schools, territories, states and universities to minimise Australian involvement in orphanage tourism in developing nations.
“Australia has a long and proud history of volunteering,” Bishop said. “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.”
While the plan is a step in the right direction, it falls short of a total ban of orphanage tourism.
How you can help
You can offer support and raise awareness about this horrific reality. We all need to change the way we perceive overseas aid and instead consider children’s rights. One way is to only support organisations, such as Lumos, that help reunite children with their families. Another way to drive awareness is to become an active advocate on social media by writing posts like “Donations to orphanages fuels an industry that exploits children”.