We are extremely proud to announce that we have now received ChildSafe certification in our Asia destinations. As a leading destination management company at the forefront of our industry, we are eager to take on our role in raising awareness and spreading the ChildSafe message to our partners and suppliers. The announcement is another developing step in our longstanding commitment to protecting the wellbeing and welfare of children in our communities, part of our responsible travel initiatives.
Thanks to the help of our designated ChildSafe International Coordinator, Marie Duong, we recently undertook a comprehensive assessment and review of our practices. We worked hard to meet the ChildSafe 7 standards and completed the extensive training that amounted to a rigorous process. Now, all employees across our Asia destinations are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to protect children within our industry and spread these best practices to others. We’d also like to take this opportunity to give special praise to our ChildSafe ambassadors who worked hard to deliver this training.
What is ChildSafe?
ChildSafe is a movement which proactively engages with businesses and organisations to share the tools needed to protect children worldwide. Their founding mission is to keep children safe from the many different risks and forms of abuse they may encounter. Many industries adopt harmful behaviours to children without even knowing it, and tourism is no exception. It’s ChildSafe’s mission through vigorous awareness campaigns, training programs, and constant support to help combat the various practices that negatively affect children. One method used is to form partnerships to better deal with these problems.
In this spirit, we are happy to announce our certification and continued partnership, but know that this is only the beginning of our work with ChildSafe. It is now our responsibility to raise awareness and to extend the ChildSafe messages and guidelines to the rest of our business operations, hoping to instil a desire for positive change within the industry.
So, What Are the Next Steps?
Over the coming months, we hope to engage in further training in our company. We are currently in the process of planning to undertake the training for our Americas destinations. This requires some thought as, worldwide, there are different challenges that children face. What may be relevant in one destination may not be so pertinent in another, where they may be other issues. So, it will take some thought and time to draw on our expertise to ensure the program is appropriate – and there will be new ChildSafe ambassadors to take up the mantle for our Americas destinations.
As far as our Asia employees are concerned, we must keep up to date with the latest ChildSafe advice and guidance. As such, we will undertake regular refresher courses so that we can be confident in our mission to protect children as best we can. Michaela Connor, Regional Peopleworks Leader, insists that it is essential that ongoing relevant educational materials are shared with Discova staff and, as a reflection of its importance, ChildSafe certification will be a part of the onboarding process for new employees.
The Bigger Picture – Raising Awareness
As already mentioned, it is part of the mission statement of ChildSafe to gain credibility through being visible within industries so that it can achieve its goals. By extension, we have an obligation as a business to continue to raise awareness with our partners and suppliers. Thus, we will be fulfilling our commitment to contribute to the visibility of ChildSafe within the industry.
One active step we are taking towards this is to engage in collaborative training with all our homestays across our destinations in Asia. We want to come together in a spirit of learning to share our recently gained expertise and help everybody better protect the children involved in our communities.
This involves basic requests like putting up materials to be visible for travellers – materials such as ChildSafe’s 7 tips for travellers and photo-taking guidelines. However, more than this, we want to give our homestay hosts the confidence and know-how to effectively bring this message to their customers themselves, to deal with the sometimes tricky requests or questions we receive from travellers.
The plan is to engage in this training face-to-face, with the Childsafe Ambassadors in each of our destinations heading out to our communities. For example, one of our ChildSafe Ambassadors in Thailand, Porjai Chaiwongyart, will build on already effective relationships with our community leaders in Om Goi to come up with efforts to better educate our homestay hosts there. The aim is to work in cooperation so that everybody sees the benefits for children in the industry. This may result in personalised guidelines for maximum relevance in each of our destinations.
Fortunately, many of our guides took part in the training already. The next step here is to ensure that everybody involved in the business is trained, and this will be extended to our regular drivers. We want everybody that represents our organisation to deal with these issues with confidence. Whenever any travellers come into contact with a Discova employee, they should be confident that employee is well-informed on matters of child safety and can rely on them to act accordingly to deal with any issues that arise.
We have been fortunate to have used the break in travel to improve our operations through various initiatives. As a result, we are a better DMC going forward. We hope to have achieved the goals set out within our next steps plan in 2021 to be ready as and when significant travel returns to our destinations.