Aus Family Violence Hotline Launches in PNG
20 August 2015 at 11:00 am
Australian International aid organisation, ChildFund, has developed a national crisis hotline to tackle epidemic levels of violence against women and children in Papua New Guinea.
The charity has launched of the country’s first nationally available, toll-free hotline offering crisis support to survivors of family and sexual violence.
The hotline, called “1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN”, was launched in Port Moresby by ChildFund in partnership with Papua New Guinea’s Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and international family services Not for Profit, FHI 360.
Photo: Vlad Sokhin/ChildFund Australia/Hans Ruth
ChildFund said it pooled charitable donations from the Australian public with $2.3m (NZD $2.6m) from the New Zealand Government’s aid program to set up and maintain the support service over the next five years.
“Family violence is a devastating problem throughout our region. In Papua New Guinea, the avenues available for survivors to seek help are severely lacking, while entrenched attitudes around violence and gender inequality only complicate the issue,” ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said.
“Children's healthy development depends on having a family and community where they feel safe, loved and protected. This hotline is about providing those who are experiencing violence with a safe channel to seek help.”
Spence said it’s estimated that two-thirds of women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime in Papua New Guinea, which only outlawed domestic violence as recently as 2013.
“Many researchers and community leaders believe this is just the tip of the iceberg – a view supported by ChildFund’s research conducted in 2013, which found most women interviewed in Rigo District had experienced violence and said their children were often present when their partners were violent towards them,” he said.
With access to telecommunications widespread and growing rapidly across the country, ChildFund Papua New Guinea’s program manager Aydelfe Salvadora said a combination of common mobile phone access and a growing awareness of family and sexual violence within PNG had made it “the right time” to launch the hotline.
“The country is more connected than ever before through the now common use of mobile phones in PNG, which works very well for our service,” Salvadora said.
“At the same time, all important stakeholders in the community are recognising family and sexual violence as an issue and are implementing steps to educate and offer support – from Government to NGOs to corporate enterprises.”
Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, said tackling family violence is no easy task but this hotline was an important step to reach survivors across the country.
“This has the potential to be life-saving for women and children who are experiencing violence in their homes and communities right now,” Stott Despoja said.
“I congratulate ChildFund, the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and FHI 360 for securing the resources and support to get this vital service off the ground.”
ChildFund said callers will have access to confidential crisis counselling and referrals to local service providers – for example, safe houses, family support centres, police and legal services.
The organisation said it is also working with the University of Papua New Guinea on a counselling qualification to ensure that there will be trained counsellors to continue and expand the work of the service into the future.