EU commits K3.4m to address family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 15 December 2014: Efforts to end violence against women and children in Papua New Guinea received a significant boost today, with the European Union (EU) announcing it will provide K3.4 million in funding to support the work of ChildFund Papua New Guinea in addressing family and sexual violence, with City Mission as the key partner.

The agreement was signed today, Monday 15 December, at a ceremony held at the ChildFund PNG office in Port Moresby.

The endemic violent abuse of women and children is recognised as the most pressing human rights issues in PNG. It is estimated over two-thirds of women in PNG will suffer domestic or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime. This extends to sexual and physical violence against children, with girls especially vulnerable.

Through its support of HOPE: A Haus for Protection and Empowerment Project, the EU recognises a clear need to strengthen the capacity of on-the-ground services related to prevention and response, in both urban and rural areas of PNG.

Under the project, ChildFund PNG will work in partnership with the City Mission-run women’s refuge Haus Ruth in Port Moresby to improve the services and support available to child and adult survivors of violence. Activities will include upgrading and expanding the accommodation available to provide safe refuge, including the provision of child-friendly facilities and services.

ChildFund PNG will also invest funds in training and supporting community-based human rights defender groups in urban and rural areas, such as local advocacy networks, church representatives, safe house staff, community members and survivors, to provide increased protection, refuge and remedial services. Further, an outreach team will be established to engage community and government stakeholders and improve coordination of services.

This project builds on ChildFund PNG’s experiences working on child rights and community outreach since 2005. ChildFund’s current program activities include the development of a national hotline to assist survivors of family and sexual violence, working with male counselling and male support groups, sexual and reproductive health education, and the trialling of early education techniques in respectful relationships.

It also builds on City Mission Haus Ruth’s experience providing safe refuge since 2003. Previous EU support to Haus Ruth resulted in increased accommodation capacity, staff levels and staff training, and expanded relations with other service providers, NGOs and the private sector.

Manish Joshi, ChildFund PNG’s country director, said: “This project will significantly improve the services and support available to assist survivors of family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea. It will not only generate greater awareness of the protections available but provide effective avenues for help, with a particular focus on strengthening child protection and promoting the rights of women and children.”

Maria Cruz Cristibal, Charglo d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union Delegation, said the launch of the EU-funded project HOPE is timely, following the recent observance of Human Rights Day, which called for more action to address violence against women and children in Papua New Guinea.

“The HOPE project aims to bring a window of hope to many children and women that suffer, or are threatened by, violence and its lasting consequences. Each society must address its own challenges, must build its own solutions; by supporting HOPE, the European Union aims to make a contribution to a goal that only Papua New Guineans can achieve,” she said.

The EU welcomes the partnership with ChildFund PNG and City Mission and wishes them a successful implementation.

Sydney, Australia, 15 December 2014: ChildFund Australia has condemned the Federal Government’s decision to axe the Australian aid budget for the third time since coming to power.

Treasurer Joe Hockey today announced that a further $3.7 billion will be cut from the aid budget over the next four years, taking the total funding cut to the sector to more than $11 billion since the Coalition took office 15 months ago.

This is despite earlier statements from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the aid budget would be capped at $5 billion for the next two years, then increase year on year, according to the Consumer Price Index.

The first cut of $1 billion – 20 per cent of the total aid budget – will be made in 2015-16, representing the largest single-year cut in history. By 2017, Australian aid will be at its least generous level ever: just 0.22 per cent of Gross National Income.

Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “At a time when regional security and prosperity are key foreign policy priorities for the Australian Government, it seems a very odd decision to cut funding for vital programs that are giving a hand up to some of the most vulnerable children and families in our region.

“The size and scale of these cuts is particularly damaging and affects programs already under way. For organisations like ChildFund, this is an incredibly frustrating and ineffective way to be working.”

Since the Abbott Government came to power, it has cut the aid budget three times and used money earmarked for aid to fund its Green Climate Fund contribution.

The impact of the latest cuts will be felt deeply by aid agencies working to help children and families in our region.

In January this year, ChildFund Australia was forced to scale back and delay programs in Laos, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam to cope with a $726,000 shortfall in federal funding. In total, 17 projects were directly affected by the cuts including an early childhood education project in rural Laos and several child protection projects.

Cuts to funding also saw the axe fall on ChildFund Connect, an acclaimed global education program that benefitted more than 9,000 children and youth across the Asia-Pacific region in the past financial year alone, and supported the Australian Curriculum’s focus on intercultural understanding.

Mr Spence said: “These cuts will dramatically set back our contribution to crucial progress in our region and beyond. This is an extremely poor choice for budget savings ÛÒ a false economy that will do more harm than good.”

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