Why Aussies Should Think Twice Before Volunteering Overseas

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Why Aussies Should Think Twice Before Volunteering Overseas Pexels

Aussies who would like to travel and help the world's poorest children, are being urged to re-think volunteering overseas. 

A campaign has been launched by the federal government to help make sure school groups and students are not unwittingly visiting or volunteering in programs that exploit children.

The programme follows a boom in "voluntourism", which can see Australian volunteers contributing to harmful practices when they go to work in orphanages.

A UNICEF report released last year found the number of residential orphanages in Cambodia increased by 75 per cent between 2005 and 2010, with most children living in them neither orphans nor abandoned. Half the institutions were in popular tourist locations.

The new campaign, launched by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Education Minister Simon Birmingham, discourages any form of short-term, unskilled volunteering in overseas orphanages and provides guidelines on how to be a child-safe volunteer.

Those considering volunteering can find information on the DFAT website about how to make sure they won't be harming the very people they are trying to help.