Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
Why doesn’t Rok Kern facilitate direct contact with children as part of these trips ?
Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. While we often think that having a child protection background check is a license to be able to interact with children, safeguarding children also involves protecting their rights to grow up in a private, carefree childhood, without exploitation or manipulation. Many forms of short-term missions have the potential to push these boundaries and create unintentional harm. We prevent these possibilities by not having any scheduled activities which involve children.
Of course, you’ll see children out and about on your travels – give them a wave and a smile! If you think of the same kinds of boundaries you would keep in mind in your home country, they’ll be happy to see you!
What is the service part of my trip ?
Many of us, including our staff, enjoy having the opportunity to serve our local communities. It is something we value as part of who we are. When we travel, we often bring this value with us and want to “give back” in some way.
However volunteering overseas, often takes opportunities away from local people in their communities. Volunteering in roles that local people can do disempowers the very people we are trying to serve, and can create dependency or take work opportunities away from those who need them most.
One of the hardest parts of volunteering overseas is identifying which opportunities to serve are helpful without understanding the culture and the context. We often act to fix a need that we see and then afterwards wonder why it didn’t work, or realise that we have hurt or harmed others.
Instead of serving directly in Cambodia, Rok Kern asks participants to come and learn how to understand the context here. This might mean exploring what long-term volunteering could look like, or learning how to advocate and fundraise for the NGOs that you meet. We would love to see you use the skills you have in volunteering in your community to share about the work of CIF.
For those that come on a full program exposure trip, there may be an opportunity to partner with CIF staff to provide resources that help them improve their therapeutic interventions with families. This opportunity is dependent on the needs and availability of our staff at the time of your visit.
What is the process after I register my interest ?
Hitting the ‘enquiries’ or ‘start your journey’ button on any of our pages will trigger an email to our staff who will get back to you within 3 working days.
If you have enquired about an exposure trip, a team member will request a conference call where they will answer any questions you have, help you work out whether our program will meet your needs, and talk to you about program specifics. They will then draw up a partnership contract with specific curriculum requirements and dates, trip details, a budget and an itinerary and send those to you.
Once the partnership agreement is signed and the administration fee has been paid, you will be given access to our course content through the website. As you work through our courses, we will continue to support you to ensure the preparation materials are going well and to finalize trip planning.
Our team will plan all the details of your trip and facilitate your group’s learning while the team is here.
After the trip, Rok Kern staff will work with you to fulfill your advocacy goals and continue to debrief your team.
Can we meet the families that CIF work with ?
Participants on Rok Kern exposure trips don’t have direct contact with CIF families. A group of foreign tourists would not be allowed to visit with foster families in Australia, so we afford that same protection to the children and families we support at CIF. We’d be a pretty poor Foster Care agency if we didn’t, really!
Children in Families works with some of the most vulnerable groups in society – children who have been abandoned, abused, trafficked or institutionalised, or families that are at risk of separation because of their experience of poverty. They need stability, privacy and therapeutic interventions to process their life experiences and grow as family units. Many of these families are in the process of forming attachments with a child and until these attachments are formed, visitors create the same broken attachment issues that are so harmful within orphanage tourism. Bringing a group of strangers to meet with families also risks them being publically highlighted in their communities as “the foster care family”, which reinforces negative perceptions and destabilises those family situations.
How will we get to experience the “real” culture of Cambodia if the trip is city-based ?
Tropical beaches, palm trees, rice fields and small villages – we have all seen the brochures, websites, tv shows offering us a chance to have an “authentic travel experience” And we all have friends who have travelled to South East Asia and posted their experiences on Instagram.
These images and ideas set our expectations for what life in Cambodia, and neighbouring countries, must be like. But while Cambodia cannot compete with Australia for its rates of urbanisation, over 30% of Cambodians live in the 4 biggest cities. (Did you know that 52% of Australians live in the 4 biggest cities in Australia in 2019?) Like the rest of the world, the urban centers have their own distinct expression of culture as young people flock to cities seeking work and study and all generations follow their cultural and religious norms in an often rapidly changing environment. While urban culture may look different to the expectations we have of rural-based culture,we invite you to come and observe and learn what the experience of living life in urban Cambodia is like for nearly a third of the country’s population.
Are other people using a similar model ?
Yes, a number of International NGOs and mission agencies are now advocating for and hosting exposure trips as an alternative to service based trips.
As more and more research shows the benefits of exposure trips, this model is becoming more broadly recognized as the ethical and responsible choice.
I am not Australian. Can I still bring a team on a Rok Kern trip or attend the training and development ?
Absolutely! The program is open to all nationalities.
At this stage the education program is only calibrated to the Australian National Curriculum. Plans are underway to expand it to other curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)
I work with another NGO and am interested in using the Rok Kern materials for our visiting teams or replicating the Rok Kern model to promote our family-based care work. Is there a way I can do that ?
We’ve had exactly this conversation more than once in the past, and we’re always interested in helping other organisations share this same information!
Please contact our staff to speak more about exploring a memorandum of understanding and membership options.