Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR0707- Together we can stop child-sex tourism


With Australian Government financial support, ASEAN launched on Monday night, 07 July, a further phase of the ASEAN Regional Education Campaign entitled “Please Protect our National Treasures”. This Campaign encourages responsible tourists and local citizens to phone national hotline numbers if they see tourists behaving suspiciously around local children.

The Campaign was launched at a private sector event held in Sofitel Hotel in Manila and was attended by over 200 guests representing regional businesses interested in future partnerships to combat child-sex tourism in the region.

Australia Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Rod Smith, said, “It is imperative that we safeguard our children and the region’s tourism industry from child-sex tourists. Joint efforts between the private and public sectors will send a strong message that there is no safe haven for child-sex offenders in South East Asia.”

Mr Nicholas Tandi Dammen, the ASEAN Deputy Secretary General, said, “Children are our most precious treasures. Grey Worldwide have donated their expertise to develop the ASEAN Regional Education Campaign. We now welcome the support of other businesses to invest in building a safe future for children in the region.”

Ms Anita Dodds from Child Wise, a leading Australian child protection organisation, said “Child protection is everyone’s responsibility. The government is committed. The public are already making reports to the hotline numbers. The police are investigating these reports. Arrests are happening. Now we need the support of the business sector to ensure the campaign is visible in all prime tourist destinations,”

The education campaign supports the Australian Government’s collaboration with Child Wise, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), to develop a five year plan to combat child-sex tourism in the ASEAN region. The development of this plan is intended to bring together key government and private sector stakeholders to scale up the current response to child-sex tourism and ensure a more holistic response going forward.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Mick Keelty explained, “Child sexual exploitation is one of the most appalling human rights violations. Australia takes a strong stand against child-sex tourism and ending it remains an enduring goal of the Australian Government. Bringing together the private and public sectors to combat this issue is a logical step in cementing a sustainable response to child-sex tourism.”

Oscar Palabyab, Under Secretary for the Philippines Department of Tourism concluded the event by saying, “Working together we can stop child-sex tourism. If you see suspicious behaviour, please make a report to the authorities on the national hotline 0919 7777 377. If you want to learn how your business can participate in the campaign, please contact the Philippines Department of Tourism or Child Wise.”