Australia continues to lead the way against orphanage tourism

1 March 2018

WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds has welcomed the Government’s landmark moves to end Australia’s involvement in the ‘for profit’ orphanage tourism industry. Poverty should never be a reason to institutionalise children.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Education Minister Simon Birmingham today announced the launch of public education and awareness raising programs regarding orphanage voluntourism to be administered through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This would include the publication of detailed information on the department’s website as well as educational materials for schools and universities.

Senator Reynolds said the Australian Parliament and Government were the first to take action against orphanage tourism, which the Australian Parliament has recognised as trafficking and modern slavery.

“After visiting Cambodia in January 2016, I was horrified to learn that every year, thousands of Australian tourists were unwittingly supporting the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children in ‘for-profit’ orphanages,” Senator Reynolds said.

“I returned and began advocating for Western Australians to reduce their assistance to these institutions, and to instead shift their efforts to programs that assist families to stay together.

“As a national issue, I also raised this issue with my Parliamentary colleagues, and in particular Minister Bishop and Minister Birmingham. I am delighted that they have acted so decisively to raise domestic awareness of the problem and the part Australians can play in ending it.”

The announcement comes after the release of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s landmark report into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia in December last year. Among the committee’s 49 recommendations were recommendations for the department to continue increasing awareness and advice to educational institutions and the general public.

“I am incredibly proud that by politicians and civil society working together, we have become the first nation to recognise and take action on this form of modern slavery. It is time for these 8 million children to be reunited with families and local communities. No longer should any child be a tourist attraction.”

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