Whether you’re planning to travel solely for volunteering purposes, or want to join the other 1.6 million people who donate their time while on vacation, be sure to keep some things in mind. Below is a list of four red flags that anyone thinking of volunteering on their next holiday should look out for.
1. “Work with children”
Many amazing organisations make a significant impact on improving the lives of children. However, if an advertisement promotes ‘working with kids’ as a selling point, run, don’t walk, away. The big business of orphanage tourism is prime grounds for exploitation and trafficking. Save the Children estimates up to 90% of children in orphanages are not orphans.
Organisations that work with orphanages and do not require a Working with Children’s check should be reported, especially if they are an Australian group! It’s important that anyone spending time with children is deemed to be safe for the community.
2. “No experience required”
Legitimate volunteering organisations have extensive training sessions to prepare you for the work you will do abroad. If the group you’re considering doesn’t, and if you don’t have experience or qualifications, how can you help? Ask yourself: what would I be doing, and would it
Never pay to volunteer. If a company is making money, they have a financial incentive to place unskilled, unqualified people in organisations abroad. Some genuine opportunities may ask volunteers to pay for a part of their program, like air fares or airport transfers to a pre-departure briefing, but you should be critical of where these payments are going. If you’re asked to pay, be sure to ask where the money is going and how donations are spent.
4. Do you choose them, or do they choose you?
Think about the process of applying for a job. Applying to work overseas should be the same process. Most legitimate opportunities include an application, an extensive interview with staff members, references, medical clearances and a work visa. If the organisation you’re applying to has a fast application process, it may be cutting corners and should be avoided.
Keep these tips in mind when looking for volunteer opportunities abroad to make sure you find the perfect fit. Volunteering with Palms Australia may be just what you’re looking for to help people and communities in need in 2019.