Be cautious with orphanage welfare

I was reading recently about the number of Australians providing support to orphanages in developing countries.

I think it’s great there’s so much interest now in assisting people right around the world and not just in our own country.

But we’ve got to be careful not to export failed models of child welfare to developing countries. In this country we have learnt over the years that if a child can’t live with their biological parent, their best option is another relative, and if there’s no other relative then the next best option is someone else they know or someone at least in their village or in their community.

We have found that orphanages often become places where children might suffer. They become understaffed and children don’t get a sense of belonging. Children don’t get the opportunity to attach themselves to one constant, caring figure.

So we should be careful when exporting orphanage models of child welfare when we know they don’t work.

People that set up these schemes are very well-meaning. They were very well-meaning when they were established in Australia.

But we need to learn from our history.

Children in need need the very best and the very best is, usually, not an orphanage.