Aussie rugby stars gear up to ‘pass it back’ as ChildFund and World Rugby announce new partnership

Australian rugby stars, including Charlotte Caslick and John Eales, are getting behind a major international partnership between World Rugby and ChildFund, launched today, to change children’s lives through the transformative power of sport, as part of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper said: “We awarded the tournament to Japan because we knew that it could be a powerful game-changer for sporting and social change in Asia. As a transformational rugby for good program, ChildFund Pass It Back is the perfect embodiment of that objective and we are excited about the impact rugby can have to thousands of children within the world’s most populous and youthful continent.

“Rugby is a sport of character-building values and we have witnessed the solidarity of the rugby community in rallying behind Kamaishi and I am sure that fans purchasing tickets for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup will be generous in supporting rugby programmes that will make a real and lasting difference to thousands of disadvantaged children.”

Funds raised through the partnership will enable the award-winning[1] ChildFund Pass It Back program to be expanded in Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines, and extended to other developing countries in the region. Donated funds will also assist with emergency relief efforts in disaster-affected areas in Japan.

Over 20,000 children from disadvantaged communities across Asia will benefit.

ChildFund Alliance Chair Michael Rose said: “This is an exciting opportunity. We believe every child has the right to play, which is why ChildFund’s Pass it Back program was originally established for children in rural and remote communities of Laos and Vietnam. These are children who face significant challenges around poverty and inequality.

“Well designed sport for development programs are a proven way to achieve positive social outcomes, such as building resilience, youth leadership and gender equity. ChildFund Pass It Back helps young people to develop the skills they need to keep themselves safe in what is a rapidly changing environment, and support global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 – to end all forms of violence against children.”

The ChildFund Pass It Back program has already assisted thousands of children and youth across Asia, with its unique curriculum using tag rugby to help young people in a range of areas, including leadership, problem solving, gender equity, conflict resolution and planning for the future.

Australian rugby legend, John Eales AM, said: “I am very pleased to see that World Rugby and ChildFund are joining forces for Rugby World Cup 2019. Through this partnership, vulnerable children in Asia will get the opportunity to play rugby, and also benefit from a program which will give them important, and life-long, skills and knowledge.”

Australian Rugby Sevens player Charlotte Caslick OAM said: “I’ve just returned from Laos where I experienced firsthand the power of rugby in sharing sports, leadership and life skills with children who face challenges many of us here in Australia cannot imagine.

“It’s great to see so many girls and young women getting involved in the program, which has a strong emphasis on gender equality – over 50 per cent of all players and coaches involved in ChildFund Pass It Back are female which is amazing.”

Nigel Spence, ChildFund Australia CEO, said: “Through the partnership with World Rugby, ChildFund will reach more marginalised young people in Asia – girls, children from poor communities, young people living in rural and remote areas who have never had the opportunity to take part in organised sport before.

Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia CEO, said: “Sport has the incredible power to unite people and communities. Many of our Australian rugby players have experienced this first hand when visiting ChildFund Pass It Back training sessions in Laos and Vietnam. As we celebrate the game of rugby at the Rugby World Cup In Japan, this partnership shines an international light on the importance of children everywhere having the opportunity to play, participate in organised sport and enjoy its many life-changing benefits.”

[1] ChildFund Pass It Back won the UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award at the prestigious Beyond Sport Global Awards in 2017.

A report launched by ChildFund Australia today uncovers the tragically high rates of maternal mortality in Papua New Guinea, Australia’s closest neighbour.

The report A National Health Crisis: Maternal Deaths in Papua New Guinea reveals that PNG is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a mother, where 1 in 120 women are losing their lives during pregnancy in PNG, compared to 1 in 9,000 in Australia.

The report states that the risk of maternal death is 35 times greater in Papua New Guinea than in Australia, and more than half of women in PNG have no choice but to give birth at home, due to the extreme shortage of hospitals, clinics and healthcare workers. In rural areas, rates are even higher.

Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “The contrast between Australia’s maternal health standards and that of our closest neighbour is stark but can be addressed.

“No woman should die giving birth. Yet in a country just 160km north of Australia, women are losing their lives every day during childbirth due to unsafe conditions and causes that are completely preventable.

“A particular concern is that, unlike other developing countries in the region, maternal mortality rates in Papua New Guinea appear to be deteriorating, not improving.

“Australia has the ability to help our neighbour in preventing these needless deaths through simple interventions like improving basic healthcare at the village level.” Mr Spence said.

“Currently rural health clinics, where they exist, are rudimentary, lack basic equipment and medicines, and are unable to service the vast health needs of impoverished communities.”

ChildFund Australia currently provides on the ground assistance for women and newborns in PNG in an effort to make childbirth safer for remote, rural communities.

“Our focus is on equipping frontline workers with the skills and resources they need to ensure more women and their newborns survive childbirth. We strongly encourage women to deliver at the nearest health facility where possible. But sadly, this is not feasible for most women in PNG.” Mr Spence said.

ChildFund Australia equips and trains dedicated volunteers at a village level to provide essential, basic health support to pregnant women in their community. This program aims to bridge the gap between remote villages and health clinics in major centres.

Volunteers receive training in how to assist birth delivery, health monitoring, advising pregnant mothers, and family planning. They are also trained in how to recognise the danger signs in pregnancy and childbirth, and when to refer their patients for specialist care.

ChildFund also provides volunteers and healthcare workers with birthing kits containing essential items that reduce the risks of infection.

A National Health Crisis: Maternal Deaths in Papua New Guinea Key Findings:

  • The risk of maternal death is 35 times greater in Papua New Guinea than in Australia.
  • As many as 80% of women in Central Province, where ChildFund works, have no choice but to give birth at home, increasing the risks to both mother and child.
  • Nationally, around half of all women will give birth without any form of skilled assistance, with this figure much higher in rural areas. In comparison, fewer than 1% of women in Australia are without proper care and support.
  • In PNG, there is an extreme shortage of hospitals, clinics and healthcare workers. Currently, there is one doctor for 18,000 people, compared to 1 for 300 in Australia. For every nurse in Papua New Guinea, there are 65 nurses in Australia.
  • Official data on maternal mortality in PNG is unreliable, as so many deaths in rural PNG are unaccounted for, however the available data suggests the situation is worsening.

Download the full report.