Australia to curb tourism to foreign orphanages that exploit children for profit

The federal government has announced plans to divert well-meaning Australian volunteers from foreign orphanages that exploit fake orphans for profit.

The foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will on Thursday announce a campaign involving states, territories, schools and universities to curb Australian involvement in so-called orphanage tourism in developing nations.

It is also still considering whether to follow an inquiry’s recommendation to divert Australian government aid funding away from foreign orphanages.

The measure falls short of the ban on orphanage tourism called for by a Liberal-led foreign affairs and aid subcommittee late last year.

In a joint statement with the education minister, Simon Birmingham, Bishop said the campaign would help volunteers make informed decisions and avoid becoming involved in the exploitation of children.

“The Australian government will work with states and territories and universities to ensure school groups and students are not unwittingly visiting or volunteering in programs that exploit children,” the statement said.

“This work will help to ensure the good intentions of so many Australians are fulfilled through positive actions that protect them and vulnerable children overseas.”

The announcement comes after significant lobbying by the Liberal senator Linda Reynolds within the Coalition. It also comes after campaigns from groups like the Cambodia Children’s Trust and ReThink Orphanages, an alliance of charities and not-for-profits opposed to orphanages in developing nations.

Organisations such as the United Nations children’s fund (Unicef) have long called for western nations to reduce their support for orphanages in developing nations, and instead redirect their efforts to funding familial or community-based care for children.

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