25 November 2020: The 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain, Papua New Guinea’s only national telephone counselling and support service, is now available on a 24-hour basis to anyone experiencing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Launched in partnership by ChildFund and CIMC (Family & Sexual Violence Action Committee) in 2015, the helpline has also launched a Facebook page, supporting efforts to provide information to potential callers, and promote referral services in local communities.
The helpline receives ongoing support from the New Zealand Aid Programme. The expansion of services in 2020 has been made possible due to St John Ambulance, UNICEF and UN Women.
The service hours have been expanded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a steep rise in callers seeking support on GBV incidents.
Trained counsellors – who offer callers help on issues ranging from crisis counselling, safety planning, and suicide intervention – can now be contacted at any time of day from any of the country’s 22 provinces via a toll-free Digicel number 7150 8000.
Since its inception, the 1 Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain has received over 40,000 calls and partnered with over 350 service providers nationwide. In 2019 alone, tele-counsellors responded to 23,000 calls and this number is expected to increase significantly in 2020.
A senior counsellor on the service [named withheld for privacy reasons] said: “When we launched the helpline five years ago, we did not anticipate the large numbers of people who would use the service.
“It has also been interesting to learn that the helpline is seen as a valuable resource not only by survivors of SGBV, but perpetrators seeking advice on behaviour change. We hope that by establishing a social media presence we can make more people aware of the service we provide, while having the ability to sharing regular resources and advice to a wider audience.”
Bridgette Thorold, Country Director of ChildFund PNG, said: “ChildFund and FSVAC are committed to implementing programs and services which address the causes of violence; build the capacity of our legal system, and strengthen the services available to survivors.
“Communities in PNG already experience high rates of family violence, and unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these tensions. With expanded hours and an online presence, the 1 Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain can help more people impacted by SGBV.”
In marking International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, Marcia Kalinoe, National Coordinator of CIMC-Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee, said: “There is an urgent need for vital services like the helpline to be made available to more women, men and children through the country.
“However, everyone has a part to play in building peaceful communities. We can all take action to end violence in our homes, families, communities, villages, and workspaces.”
The 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain is a partnership between ChildFund and CIMC (FSVAC) and is supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme. The expansion of services in 2020 has been made possible due to St John Ambulance, UNICEF and UN Women.