Orphanage tourism: ethics and alternatives 

Join us to explore the ethics and impact of orphanage tourism and the proposed Modern Slavery legislation

More than 8 million children live in institutions globally, despite the fact that approximately 80% of these children have family who could care for them given the right support. As a major contributor to the supply chain of people, money and resources that drive the global orphanage industry, tourism is creating a demand for ‘orphans’ and ‘orphanages.’

In 2016, 14% per cent of Australian schools had an association with an orphanage overseas, and over 50%of all Australian universities advertised orphanage placements as part of their international volunteeringopportunities.

Join us to explore the ethics and impact of orphanage tourism and the proposed Modern Slavery legislation. Hear from Government, child protection experts, advocates and travel organisations to understand what will change for schools and organisations that are engaged with overseas orphanages. It’s time to learn about best practice in protecting children overseas, and how schools can ensure they are helping, not harming.

Venue to be announced shortly.

Not in Victoria? If you'd like to see this event in your capital city, please send an email to leigh@altoglobalconsulting.com


Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

1 Convention Centre Place

South Wharf, Victoria 3006

Date & Time

August 24, 2018, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Hear from government, child protection experts and advocates, and travel organisations. 

9:30 am


Registrations open at 9:30am - please show your ticket and collect your name tag on arrival.

10:00 am

Keynote: Senator Linda Reynolds

Hear from Senator Linda Reynolds about the Modern Slavery Act and why the Australian government is leading the world in protecting vulnerable children overseas.

10:20 am

Orphanage Trafficking & Modern Slavery: Kate van Doore, Griffith Law School

Kate will talk about the story of Forget Me Not, a charity started by three young Australians who funded the operation of children's home's in Nepal and Uganda with the best of intentions. Kate will discuss how they discovered the children had been trafficked into these homes, what happened to the children and how this experience has helped shape the recognition of orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery.

10:40 AM

Ethics of Responsible Travel: Dr. Joseph Cheer, Monash University

The traveling public are now more than ever, aware of the impacts of orphanage tourism, and this raises the question of where else in the global travel supply chain might modern slavery practices occur. While legislation and advocacy can provide some deterrents and safe guards, voluntarily abiding by a travel code of ethics is vital. What might a traveller code of ethics look like and how can it be reinforced in the travel decision making process? What role does the travel and allied industries have in upholding the code of ethics? Lastly, how can parents and teachers conduct their own due diligence and formulate a code of ethics?

11:00 am


11:20 am

ReThinking Orphanages: Leigh Mathews, ALTO Global Consulting

The co-founder of ReThink Orphanages will discuss how orphanage tourism drives the unnecessary separation of children from families, and provides an overview of how Australian schools can ensure they are not contributing to harming children overseas.

11:40 am

Protecting children: Karen Flanagan AM, Save the Children Australia

Save the Children Australia's Child Protection Advocate discusses the harms of residential care for children and getting the balance right: respectful public engagement  of students and volunteers in the international child protection development agenda

12:00 PM


1:00 Pm

Responsible tourism and child protection: Amy Bolger, Intrepid Foundation

Amy Bolger will discuss the reasons behind the Intrepid Group's withdrawal from engagement with orphanages and how they are transitioning to better ways to support vulnerable children

1:20 Pm

Critical Thinking Workshops: Elizabeth Tuck and Oliver Jones, World Challenge 

Elizabeth Tuck, and Oliver Jones discuss World Challenge's critical thinking workshop pilot program in Cambodia and Vietnam.

1:40 PM

Panel Q & A

An open Q & A session with Dr. Joseph Cheer from Monash University, Kate van Doore from Griffith Law School, Leigh Mathews from ALTO Global Consulting, Karen Flanagan from Save the Children, Amy Bolger from the Intrepid Foundation, and Aaron Pittaway from World Challenge.

2:10 Pm

Launch of school resources & assessment framework, TBC

Launch of resources to support schools to educate students about the harms of orphanage tourism and ensure ethical engagement with overseas communities.

2:40 Pm


3:00 Pm

Overview of education modules and self assessment framework

Leigh Mathews of ALTO Global Consulting will facilitate an overview of the modules and self assessment framework

3:30 Pm


Join us on August 24, 2018

Not in Victoria? If you'd like to see this event in your capital city, please send us an email at leigh@altoglobalconsulting.com


Senator Linda Reynolds

Senator Reynolds was elected to the Australian Senate in 2014 and is a passionate representative for her state of Western Australia. She has more than 20 years’ experience at the national political level working for Ministers, Members of Parliament and the LiberalParty of Australia. Senator Reynolds served for 29 years in the Australian Army as a ReserveOfficer, in a wide range of part and full time appointments. She also has corporate experience.

Key career appointments include: Chief of Staff to the Minister for Justice and Customs,Project Director with Raytheon Australia, Deputy Federal Director of the Liberal Party ofAustralia, Commanding Officer of a Combat Service Support Battalion and Adjutant Generalof Army, the Chief of Army's key governance advisor. Senator Reynolds was the first womanin the Australian Army Reserves to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier and was awardedthe Conspicuous Service Cross. She has completed a Master of Arts (Strategic Studies).

Senator Reynolds is a member of nine Parliamentary committees and is Chair of the JointStanding Committee on Electoral Matters, the Senate Standing Committee on ForeignAffairs Defence and Trade, the Defence Sub-Committee and the Senate PublicationCommittee. She also chairs the Australia-Indonesia parliamentary friendship group and co-chairs the Parliamentary Friends of Defence, Friends of Australian Books and Writers andFriends of Disability. Senator Reynolds is pursuing new defence and space industryopportunities for WA, innovation, gender equality and federation reform.

Karen Flanagan AM

Child Protection advisor, save the children

Karen Flanagan is a qualified social worker with 34 years clinical, managerial, training and research experience in National and International Child Protection. She has been referred to as one of Australia’s foremost educators and practitioners in the field of child sexual abuse and child abuse prevention. In 2010 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “Service to the community in the area of Child Protection through contributions to policy and program development and legislative reform”.

Currently, Karen is Save the Children Australia’s Child Protection Advocate and also provides technical support, training and capacity building for governments, staff and programs nationally and internationally. She has worked extensively with Aboriginal staff and programs in urban and remote areas and is a member of Save the Children International -  Child Protection Global Theme Steering Group, which determines Child Protection policy and practice direction across 120 Countries.

Kate van Doore


Kathryn (Kate) E. van Doore is an international children's rights lawyer and an academic at Griffith Law School, Australia. Kate currently researches the intersections of child rights, institutionalisation and human trafficking. Kate’s work includes publishing the first legal argument under international law for the active recruitment of children from their biological families into orphanages to be regarded as a form of child trafficking. 

She is a co-founder of Forget Me Not Australia, an international non-governmental organization focused on child protection and family reunification for children residing outside of parental care, a member of the Better Volunteering, Better Care Global Working Group and a Steering Committee member of the ReThink Orphanages Network.

Leigh Mathews


Leigh is a highly experienced consultant and founder of ALTO Global Consulting with over 14 years diverse experience in child rights and child protection, non-profit management, project design and management, social enterprise, and philanthropy, and a strong interest in the intersection between innovation, development, business and philanthropy. Leigh is a recognised expert in the issues of institutionalisation, residential care of children, and voluntourism.

Leigh is the Co-founder of the ReThink Orphanages Network, working to prevent the unnecessary institutionalisation of children overseas by shifting the way Australia engages with overseas aid and development.

Leigh is the recipient of the Victorian Young Australian of the Year Award 2009, the Australian Leadership Award 2009, and the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award (Human Rights and World Peace) 2009 and is an 2014 alumni of the Asialink Leaders Program delivered by the University of Melbourne.

Dr. Joseph Cheer

Monash university

Joseph is lecturer in tourism at the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at
Monash University and directs the activities of the Australia & International Tourism Research
Unit. He is board member, International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on Tourism,
Leisure and Global Change. Joseph is especially interested in the relationship between tourism,
economic, environmental and social-ecological resilience in Asia-Pacific. His work has been
published internationally in Annals of Tourism Research; Tourism, Planning & Development;
Journal of Heritage Tourism; Tourism Geographies; Asia Pacific Policy Studies and Pacific
Economic Bulletin, among others. His recent books with Alan Lew include Tourism Resilience and Adaptation to Environmental Change and Tourism Resilience and Sustainability: Adapting to
Social, Political and Economic Change published by Routledge. Joseph can be found at https://twitter.com/jmcheer1and http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/joseph-cheer/. With
Leigh Mathews, he is co-editor of the forthcoming book Modern Day Slavery and Orphanage
Tourism to be published by CABI in 2019.