LCA International Mission has backed the Australian Government’s campaign to stop people inadvertently contributing to child exploitation through the practice of so-called ‘orphanage tourism’.The government’s Smart Volunteering Campaign through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade discourages any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in orphanages because of the risk of harm to children.
The campaign cites a number of concerns:
- Constant strangers coming in and out of children’s lives can be harmful to children’s development.
Some orphanages are created to get money from tourists, rather than provide care to children as a last resort.
This can separate families, encourage an over-reliance on orphanage care, and may put vulnerable children at greater risk of harm.
Glenice Hartwich, Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission, said, ‘The LCA, through International Mission, shares these concerns.
‘LCA International Mission is helping to develop policy in this area. We encourage congregations, schools and individuals who have been supporting overseas orphanages, or who wish to do so in future, to contact us for advice.’
LCA members, including Lutheran women’s groups, have generously provided funds towards education, shoes, clothing, medical expenses and transport costs for the children at Debora orphanage in Indonesia. However, this support would need to be wound down, Mrs Hartwich said.
‘We have advised Bishop Togar [Bishop Togar Simaputang of the Gereja Kristen Protestan Angkola church (GKPA)] of this government directive’, she said. ‘This will allow the leadership of GKPA to find alternative ways of supporting this ministry.’
For further information, contact LCA International Mission on 08 8267 7300, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission
On the same issue, Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS), through a statement from its community action officers, Julie Krause, Vicki Gollasch and Christian Stern, said, ‘Here at ALWS, we have been discouraging orphanage visits for a long time, knowing these risks. At the same time, we know such visits are very popular with students and schools, including Lutheran schools.
‘Worldwide, the demand by tourists to visit orphanages has created a “market” in which unscrupulous operators actively recruit children who are not orphans to be part of their “orphanage” for financial gain.’
ALWS ‘strongly advises’ any Lutheran schools that are considering visits to overseas orphanages to refer to the Australian Government campaign at DFAT and to refer questions to ALWS Child Protection Officer Anne Fitzpatrick on 1300 763 407.