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Home is... Scary
Safe

Children are facing violence at the hands of people who should love them most.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of family violence increased around the world along with social isolation, unemployment and alcohol use. For a moment, the spotlight was on the devastating number of people, particularly children and women, facing violence at home.

While violence against children in Australia is widely unacceptable and in most cases punishable by law, in some communities around the world, it is still, tragically, a norm. 

In Pacific Island nations such as Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands, where ChildFund works, the rates of violence against children are alarming. Millions of children in the region are experiencing exceptionally high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as neglect. For the vast majority of children, this violence is happening in a place where they should feel safest: their homes and communities.

In response to the high rates of violence in PNG, ChildFund has worked with local partners to establish and grow the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain service, the country’s first toll-free helpline for survivors of violence.

Since the service was launched in 2015, helpline counsellors have received more than 50,000 calls. 

Home is… family fear

Maggie* was one of the people who called the helpline for emergency support. Maggie feared for the life of her four-year-old niece, Elizabeth*, who was being physically abused by her father.

Elizabeth’s mother had moved far away to another province for work, so Elizabeth was placed under the care of her father. Elizabeth had been living with her father for a year when Maggie found out about the abuse. Elizabeth’s father had sent images of the abuse to Elizabeth’s mother, threatening to kill her and Elizabeth. 

Fearing for Elizabeth’s life, Maggie called the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain, which she had learnt about through a text message campaign. Maggie shared her story and fears with a helpline counsellor, who provided Maggie with support and reported Elizabeth’s case to police, and welfare and child protection services. 

The counsellor helped Maggie access emergency funds so that Elizabeth could be removed from her father as soon as possible and move into a safe place with Maggie.

Today, Elizabeth is living with her mother again. Elizabeth’s father has been charged, and Elizabeth and her mother have protection orders in place.

Maggie has been in touch with the helpline counsellors, providing them with updates on Elizabeth’s wellbeing. She said Elizabeth and her mother were both safe and living at peace. All this would not have been possible, Maggie said, without the support of the counsellors and emergency funds that were secured through the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain service.

*Names have been changed to protect individuals’ identities.

Children facing abuse like Elizabeth need urgent protection.
Help provide crisis support such as counselling and safe accommodation to children and families in need.

More than a third of women in the Solomon Islands who have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner,

also experienced sexual abuse as a child.

Female survivors of intimate partner violence in the Soloman Islands are

more likely to report that a partner had abused their children emotionally, physically and/or sexually.

More than 2 in 3 women and girls in Papua New Guinea have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

A word from our PNG helpline manager

In PNG, the rates of violence against women and children are shocking. Family and gender-based violence are particularly common and are significant obstacles to our country’s development and prosperity. While there has been progress over the past five years, there is still a shortage of good quality services working to stop and respond to violence against women and children. We also need more services in more areas.

Interventions such as ChildFund’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain have made a huge difference to children’s lives and communities. The helpline is the first and only service in PNG to offer free telephone counselling and referrals for survivors and perpetrators of violence. Counsellors provide emotional, mental, financial and practical support to hundreds of survivors and their families every month.

For too many children, home is not a safe place…
But with your help, it can be.

How your donation can help stop violence against children:

Helplines and counsellors: Train and upskill counsellors for Papua New Guinea’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain service, which provides immediate and long-term support to survivors of violence.

Youth Peace & Protection Champions: Educate and empower young people to raise awareness and lead advocacy activities in their communities that focus on peace promotion, conflict prevention, and respectful relationships.

Child protection frontline workers: Train social workers, counsellors, village court officials, and staff at safe shelters and family support centres, on women’s and children’s rights, and case management.

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