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MEDIA RELEASE – Parents and schools warned about sham Cambodian orphanages

MEDIA RELEASE

PARENTS AND SCHOOLS WARNED ABOUT SHAM CAMBODIAN ORPHANGES

5 FEBRUARY 2016

Parents and schools contemplating helping Cambodian orphanages have been strongly warned to proceed with caution to ensure they are not unwittingly taking part in “orphanage tourism.”

Following a recent visit to Cambodia to look at Australian aid projects, WA Senator Linda Reynolds warns those considering assisting orphanages with either fundraising or travelling to help with building projects, to do so only after seeking advice from reputable aid organisations. According to UNICEF, approximately 75% of children living in ‘orphanages’ still have at least one living parent and short-term visits can cause harm to children’s development and emotional wellbeing. Sadly, all too often donations don’t help orphans, they create them.

Amid increasing awareness of the harmful nature of sham Cambodian orphanages, Senator Reynolds encouraged those donating to consider supporting reputable organisations working with marginalised young people and their families, rather than risk supporting sham orphanages that exploit children – who are often sadly not orphans but taken from their families – to support these businesses.

“In Australia we know the negative physical and mental impacts of children in residential care – we should not be supporting these institutions overseas when community based options are available,” said Senator Reynolds.

“I have written to the WA Education Minister asking him to ensure that schools and parents are warned about being duped. I have also written to the Association of Independent Schools and Catholic Education WA, asking them to let all schools know of the issues at stake.

The Cambodian Government is progressively closing orphanages to return these children to their parents or extended family members. For those children who are genuine orphans more appropriate community-based support is being provided.

“There are many ways that WA schools and individuals can assist those in developing countries not as fortunate as those who call Australia home are. However, there are increasingly worrying signs that assisting orphanages is not the way to go,” Senator Reynolds said.

-ENDS-

More information about ‘orphanage tourism’ and child exploitation can be found at:

http://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/volunteering-overseas.html

http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/thinkbeforedonating/

http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/thinkbeforevisiting/

Media Contact: Amy Vickers 0401 464 334

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