Special Issue
December 2017
In this joint edition of the Better Care Network newsletter, BCN and ReThink Orphanages (the Australian initiative of Better Volunteering Better Care) highlight recent achievements in advocating for the inclusion of orphanage trafficking in Australia's Modern Slavery Act, along with resources relevant
to orphanage trafficking and its recognition as a form of modern slavery. In addition, BCN presents other recent research, updates, news, events, and videos related to children's care issues around the world.
"The orphanage got its funding from the tourists and, when the tourists came, we needed to perform for them to make them happy, like singing a song, playing games with them and learning English and Japanese. Sometimes they would buy us some clothes or food, but we were not allowed to keep them. The director of the orphanage would take them back to the market and sell everything ... We worked so hard to generate income for the orphanage. It was only later that I realised I was being exploited and used like a slave."

-   Sinet Chan, in 'Hidden in Plain Sight: Modern Slavery Inquiry Report'


This year has seen a growing awareness of orphanage trafficking in the international arena. Orphanage trafficking is where children are recruited into residential care institutions (so-called "orphanages") for the purpose of exploitation, often intersecting with foreign funding and orphanage tourism. In July, the United States Trafficking in Persons Report recognized for the first time, in a case study from Nepal, the link between demand for orphan tourism experiences and children being recruited into residential care institutions.
We also saw the Australian government examine the issue in a Parliamentary Inquiry into whether Australia should adopt a Modern Slavery Act. Members of the ReThink Orphanages Network led advocacy on the issue through written submissions and by appearing as expert witnesses to give testimony. Unprecedented attention was given to orphanage trafficking in the Final Report of the Inquiry, with twelve recommendations made, including a recommendation that the definition of modern slavery should include orphanage trafficking. Work is now underway to translate those recommendations into action.
After a decade of advocacy in child protection on this issue, we are now seeing legal responses in the areas of trafficking and modern slavery being considered. When working in conjunction with child protection, these legal mechanisms provide another tool to uphold the rights of children to grow up in a family.  This special issue of the BCN newsletter, published jointly with ReThink Orphanages, highlights some of the recent research and advocacy initiatives related to orphanage trafficking, in the hope that those working in the field of children's care and child rights may draw from the learning presented here.

Florence Martin
Director, Better Care Network

Kate van Doore
Program Director, Griffith Law School

Rebecca Nhep
CEO International Programs, ACCI Relief



Toward An Australian Modern Slavery Act: 
Developments, Motivations & Implications

Hidden in Plain Sight: Modern Slavery Inquiry Report
The Australian Parliament has released a report of its inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. As a result of the advocacy work of ReThink Orphanages and other partners, the recognition of orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery was considered during the inquiry. The Inquiry Report recommends the inclusion of orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery in the Act. Part 8 of the Report is dedicated to recommendations on orphanage trafficking, including a piece on international orphanage tourism and donations from Australia. You can also read the transcript of the inquiry, including testimony from orphanage trafficking survivors, and watch a video of the opening statements from the orphanage tourism briefing.

This briefing note by ACCI Missions & Relief has been written to give Australian churches an overview of the proposed Modern Slavery Act and its inclusion of orphanage trafficking. The brief aims to provide an understanding of the likely ramifications of the legislation for churches which engage in short-term missions and/or are funding overseas 'orphanages.'

The new Modern Slavery legislation will have implications for a range of Australian organizations and businesses, including Australian charities which currently fund overseas orphanages (or other forms of residential care) and/or facilitate volunteering and voluntourism (including short-term mission trips) to orphanages.  As such, this briefing note from ACCI Missions & Relief has been written to give Australian charities currently engaging with overseas residential care institutions an overview of the issue and an understanding of some of the potential ramifications of the proposed legislation.

This newsletter issue from Senator Linda Reynolds of Western Australia was written in preparation for the Australian Parliamentary inquiry on modern slavery and describes the ways in which orphanage trafficking constitutes modern-day slavery. The sheet concludes with "Five Steps to Becoming a Smart Volunteer," reminding readers that children are not tourist attractions.

This article from Griffith Law School discusses the need for establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia and explains the connection between orphanage volunteering and child trafficking. In the article, Kate van Doore provides a definition of modern slavery and explains her argument that orphanage tourism is an exploitation of children, thus a form of modern child slavery.

This factsheet from ReThink Orphanages provides an overview of the institutional care of children around the world and how Australia contributes to that institutionalization. It highlights the phenomenon of voluntourism in orphanages and how it perpetuates the orphanage industry.

Recent Developments Around the World
This brief from ECPAT's Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism defines the term "voluntourism" and its risks to children. The brief zooms in on voluntourism in orphanages, saying "volunteering in residential care centers, orphanages and shelters has become popular among international travelers. Orphanages quickly began to take advantage of this growing interest, transforming it into a source of funding, even reportedly 'recruiting' children from their parents."

Expert Paper: Voluntourism and Trafficking into Orphanages
This expert paper by Forget Me Not Australia was published as a part of ECPAT's Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism and it presents as a case study the story of the organization from its founding to its current work. The expert paper explains the situation in Nepal and Uganda, discussing how orphanages are typically built near tourist centers, so as to position themselves as a tourist destination and garner international visitors and their donations. The paper concludes with best practices and recommendations for preventing the institutionalization of children, keeping families together, and upholding the rights of children.
Modern Slavery in the UK and in orphanages
"There have been well substantiated reports of trafficked children in orphanages for several years," writes Harold Goodwin in this piece for WTM's Responsible Tourism Blog. Goodwin explains that some orphanages recruit children to gain donations and are run like money-making businesses, which he describes as a form of modern day slavery, citing the US Government's Trafficking in Persons Report and Australia's consideration of orphanage trafficking in its Modern Slavery Inquiry as precedent. 

For the first time, the  US Government's Trafficking in Persons Report has recognized the recruitment of children into orphanages as a form of child trafficking, using the example of the recruitment of children into institutions in  Nepal. " Under false promises of education and work opportunities," says the report, "Nepali parents give their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently unregistered children's homes in urban locations, where they are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from tourists and volunteers; some of the children are also forced to beg on the street."

Funding Haitian Orphanages at the Cost of Children's Rights
This report from Lumos found that at least $70 million per year is provided by international private donors to just over one-third of  Haiti's 750 orphanages. Most donors support orphanages with the best intentions to help children in need. Yet, many children in Haitian orphanages have suffered violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. 

This article from the  International Journal of Children's Rights provides a legal analysis of child trafficking for the purpose of filling orphanages. Paper orphans are defined as those children in orphanages who are deemed "orphans" only by virtue of their falsified documents. Fake documentation is created so that these children can be recruited into orphanages and used to solicit donations. This paper intends to determine whether or not this process of creating "paper orphans" can be determined as trafficking under international law.

Additional Key Documents
This report from ReThink Orphanages "seeks to map Australia's contribution to residential care institutions for children overseas across a number of sectors and identify opportunities for strategic engagement with various stakeholders in the Australian context." The report presents data on Australia's participation in the orphanage industry and offers key recommendations based on the findings. 

This 2016 report on Global Slavery by the Walk Free Foundation makes reference to orphanage tourism in the context of Cambodia. The chapter on Cambodia begins on page 100 and highlights the exploitative nature of forced begging and orphanage tourism. These sections feature research from Friends International and UNICEF on the number of Cambodian children forced to beg in Cambodia and the surrounding region, the dramatic increase in the number of "orphanages" between 2005 and 2010, and the exploitation of children in the use of orphanages as tourist attractions, among other issues.

This expert paper is one of the accompanying documents from Offenders on the Move: Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism 2016. The paper was contributed by Better Care Network and the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative. The paper provides an overview of international volunteering, or "voluntourism," and its potential to create opportunities for child sexual exploitation, particularly in residential care centers.

Based on an exhaustive review of the global literature and utilizing an innovative theoretical framework of 'altruistic exploitation', the authors of this article (published in the British Journal of Social Work) explore the ironic juxtaposition of benefits and harms associated with orphan tourism to the various stakeholders. Volunteers are often exploited in fulfilling their altruistic motives while at the same time engaging in potential exploitation of the very children they aim to serve. The authors further examine social work implications in the policy, practice and research arenas, and provide examples and recommendations in preventing family separation, promoting family-based alternative care, and empowering communities.

Videos on Orphanage Trafficking

Changing the Way We Care Final Presentation
The MacArthur Foundation's 100&Change global competition for a $100 million grant brought together the four finalists to deliver presentations on their proposed projects at '100&Change: The Finalists Live in Chicago.' At this event, Catholic Relief Services, Lumos, and Maestral International presented their project: Changing the Way We Care, a project aimed at ending the institutionalization of children. The presentation includes a segment on voluntourism in orphanages and the contributions of international donors to orphanages, which perpetuate the corrupt orphanage industry and the trafficking of children.

Trafficking into alternative care
In this video, Kate van Doore, founder of Forget Me Not and lecturer at Griffith University Law School, describes the process of 'paper orphaning,' a term coined to characterize how children are recruited and trafficked into orphanages to gain profits through international funding and orphanage tourism. The video was created for the 21-22 June 2017  Africa Expert Consultation for Violence Against Children in Care Settings

This session of the World Travel Market in London focused on orphanage tourism and featured speakers from the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative and other partners, including Save the Children, Friends International, Lumos, and People and Places. The video highlights the detrimental impacts of institutionalization on children and their development and the ways in which orphanage tourism perpetuates this system.


Understanding the Situation

This review from Catholic Relief Services as part of the Changing the Way We Care project is a summary of the literature, from multiple disciplines, on residential child care and its deleterious effects on children. It also points towards a way forward, however, underscoring the need to move definitively away from placement in residential care as a first response and instead focus efforts on prevention of family separation and provision of family-based and supportive community environments.

Unwanted Youth: Unaccompanied Minors and Family Detention in the United States
The goals of this study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry are as follows: 1) to gain a better understanding of the impact of geopolitical violence on youth and families; 2) to describe the mental health dimensions of the traumas of separation from family, reunification with estranged family, flight from one's home country to the United States, and the needs in the United States; and 3) to learn how to use clinical and family therapy clinical techniques in a coordinated and interdisciplinary system of care.  

Disabled Children in Out-of-Home Care: Issues and Challenges for Practice
This chapter from the The Palgrave Handbook of Disabled Children's Childhood Studies discusses findings from a qualitative study that investigated the experiences of disabled children living in out-of-home care in the UK. The chapter explores the complexities of family support permanence, participation and access to specialist services, drawing on the views of disabled children and young people, their birth parents/carers and social workers. 

This report presents the results of scientific research on the topic of Social Exclusion of Vulnerable Youth, commissioned by SOS Children's Villages Netherlands and conducted by researchers of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam, in collaboration with local counterparts within the six study countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, and the Netherlands). The purpose of the research is to identify and understand the multi-dimensional drivers of social exclusion of vulnerable youth, which concerns youth who have lost, or are at risk of losing parental care. Specifically, the objective of this synthesis research is to answer the main question: How are vulnerable youth affected by social exclusion in terms of their human wellbeing, employability and social acceptance?

How wealthy are orphans and vulnerable children households in a metropolitan community, South-West Nigeria?
Responding to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) remains a public health challenge. In Nigeria, disparities in wealth among OVC has not been previously documented. Therefore, this study from African Population Studies determined the socio-economic status of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in relation to service areas in Lagos Nigeria. The study found that there were considerable socio-economic inequalities in the access of orphans and vulnerable children to the service areas.

The Family Matters Report 2017
This report by SNAICC - National Voice for our Children, the University of Melbourne, Griffith University, and Save the Children Australia highlights key findings on, and provides an overview of, the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia's child welfare system. It also offers a comprehensive analysis of child protections systems in every state and territory, judged against a series of building blocks to ensuring child safety and wellbeing and includes key recommendations.

Volume 4, Issue 1 of Childhood in Africa includes several articles related to children's care, including 'Embedding social justice in Ugandan adoption and legal guardianship cases' and 'The care and support of vulnerable children by foster care families in Uganda: Lessons in social justice and social protection.' 

This infographic from the National Center for Social Solidarity & UNICEF outlines the key facts and figures of unaccompanied youth in Greece including the number and places of UAC Shelters and Safe Zones, the number of children on the waiting list for UAC shelters, and more.

Policies, Standards and Guidelines

This resource from Opening Doors for Europe's Children provides quick answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care for children, also known as deinstitutionalisation (DI). The publication is designed to answer in a simple and user-friendly way what are institutions for children, why close institutions and spend on deinstitutionalisation, what EU and the national governments can do to improve their lives and to better protect the rights of this vulnerable group of children.  To accompany the guide, the Opening Doors for Europe's Children campaign has prepared an  online quiz   to test the knowledge and tackle some of the tricky questions on deinstitutionalisation.

This report from Community Living for Europe: Structural Funds Watch reviews findings of an examination of the EU financial framework as it relates to the promotion of community-based care of children and adults and offers key recommendations for the EU and Member States to facilitate the transition from institutional to community-based care. Community Living for Europe: Structural Funds Watch is an independent initiative that tracks how efectively the clear commitment of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to support community living of children, persons with disabilities and older persons is being implemented. 

On 15 December 2017 the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse presented a final report to the Governor-General, detailing the culmination of a five year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters. This final report details the Commission's findings and recommendations in respect of the institutions examined in its public hearings, including recommendations regarding children in out of home care.

The Education Committee of the UK's Parliament has published a report on Foster Care. The report includes conclusions and recommendations for valuing young people in care as well as foster carers and the care system.
Joint general comment on the general principles regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration
The present joint general comment was adopted by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The joint comment lays out recommendations for protecting the rights of unaccompanied minors as well as those who have been separated from their families due to migration.

Federal and State Advances to Support Grandfamilies
This policy brief from the Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy highlights the work of the Grandfamilies Advocacy Network Demonstration (GrAND Voices) to advocate for policy reforms for grandfamilies in the US. GrAND Voices are kinship caregiver advocates from around the country who elevate their voices, bringing their personal experience raising relatives, in addition to those they work with, to the attention of lawmakers. 

Achieving positive change for children? Reducing the length of child protection proceedings: lessons from England and Wales
In order to reduce delays, reforms in England and Wales have set a time limit for the completion of care proceedings. The Children and Families Act 2014 limits proceedings to 26 weeks; approximately 60% of care proceedings are now completed within this period. This article from Adoption and Fostering discusses the impact of these reforms on decision-making for children, questioning whether they achieve both good decisions for children and justice for families.

Learning from Practice

Program Components of Psychosocial Interventions in Foster and Kinship Care: A Systematic Review
Foster children frequently experience early trauma that significantly impacts their neurobiological, psychological and social development. This systematic review from the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review examines the comparative effectiveness of foster and kinship care interventions. It examines the components within each intervention, exploring their potential to benefit child and carer well-being, particularly focussing on child behaviour problems, and relational functioning.

This report was published by EuroChild and SOS Children's Villages. The 16 case studies presented in this report offer lessons from the ground on how services can ensure refugee and migrant children get the necessary protection and individualized support. They help gather learnings from interventions where the mainstream child protection services can provide quality family and community-based care to respond to the specific needs of refugee and migrant children, and identify outstanding challenges and gaps. 

This book serves as a comprehensive reference and offers a robust framework for introducing and sustaining trauma-responsive services and culture in child welfare systems. Organized around concepts of safety, permanency, and well-being, chapters describe innovations in child protection, violence prevention, foster care, and adoption services to reduce immediate effects of trauma on children and improve long-term development and maturation.

Following up on the UN Secretary General's Study on Violence against Children, these annual global reports from the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children and Save the Children Sweden track progress towards universal prohibition and elimination of corporal punishment of children. This latest edition highlights the major achievements of 2017 - yet another big year in the journey to end all corporal punishment; it provides an update on the work of the Global Initiative, and looks forward to what is coming up in 2018. 


Transitioning from a Babies' Home to professional foster care
In this video, Maureen Orogot, a Social Worker at Child's i Foundation in Uganda, shares the progress Child's i Foundation (CiF) has made on transitioning from a residential care model of alternative care to professional foster care. This video is one within a series produced by CiF and Better Care Network.

TIME FOR GLOBAL ACTION - Season 2 Episode 2 - UBS and Childs i Foundation Full Story
Time for Global Action Season 2 Episode 2
This video from Time for Global Action: Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals features interviews with Dr. Delia Pop from Hope and Homes for Children and Stephen Ucembe explaining the detrimental impacts of institutionalization on children's development and wellbeing. It also describes the work of the Child's i Foundation to reintegrate children in Uganda into their families through family tracing and strengthening efforts


Huffington Post,  22 December 2017

GLOBAL: Global effort to get kids out of orphanages gains momentum
Associated Press, 19 December 2017

Euractiv,  18 December 2017

BuzzFeed News,  12 December 2017

AUSTRALIA: 'I was raped': Compensation for modern slaves welcomed after victims speak out
SBS News, 8 December 2017

The Guardian,  7 December 2017

AUSTRALIA: Australia needs new watchdog to tackle slavery, parliamentary inquiry says
The Guardian, 7 December 2017

Africa Investigates - Al Jazeera,  3 December 2017

19 February 2018

Call for Papers: Fourth International Conference on Shared Parenting
Deadline is 15 May 2018

World Congress on Justice for Children: Strengthening justice systems for children: Challenges, including disengagement from violent extremism
28 May 2018
Application deadline is 7 January 2018
Better Care Network is seeking an East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Coordinator