The Australian Government has launched a campaign to prevent Australians from inadvertently contributing to child exploitation through the practice of orphanage tourism, including by participating in misleading volunteer programs. The Smart Volunteering Campaign discourages Australians from any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in overseas orphanages and provides guidelines on how to be a child-safe volunteer.

Volunteering overseas can be a rewarding experience, an excellent career pathway, and an opportunity to:

  • immerse yourself in a different culture
  • meet and work with locals and likeminded travellers
  • make a positive contribution to a community in need

Although Australia has a long and proud history of volunteering overseas, some Australian volunteers have unwittingly contributed to harmful practices by participating in the ‘voluntourism’ industry and engaging in orphanage tourism. To support the development needs of overseas partner organizations, individuals need to possess a wide range of professional skills, and most overseas assignments require qualifications and demonstrated professional experience.

About the campaign

The Smart Volunteering Campaign encourages Australians planning to volunteer overseas to:

  • Be an informed volunteer: Avoid short-term, unskilled volunteering in orphanages.
  • Be a child-safe volunteer: Avoid any activity where children are promoted as tourist attractions.
  • Be a prepared volunteer: Do your homework to ensure you are making a positive impact in the local community.

Because child exploitation is a serious issue, it is necessary to consider the risks before getting involved. According to the Australian government, individuals may unknowingly facilitate child exploitation by volunteering with certain organisations. Above all, when considering participating in activities involving children, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. However, in order to mitigate these risks, it is crucial to carefully consider them before committing to anything.

Learn more

Anyone considering to go overseas to volunteer should visit the Australian Volunteers website.