11 May 2018

ChildFund’s domestic violence hotline responds to PNG emergency

ChildFund New Zealand's Programme Coordinator shares from her recent visit to Papua New Guinea

By Imogen Prickett

Programme Coordinator and Grants Manager

Violence and abuse are issues we take extremely seriously at ChildFund. For many vulnerable children around the world, this type of violence is normal—it’s all they’ve ever known. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), a country where ChildFund works, four out of every five children have experienced some form of physical, verbal or sexual violence in their short lives. In fact, PNG has one of the highest rates of violence and abuse in the world. That’s why ChildFund, along with local partners and support from the New Zealand Aid Programme, has been working to address this issue by implementing a support hotline project in PNG for those affected by violence and abuse.

As the programme coordinator for ChildFund’s work in PNG, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely on the hotline project. In fact, I just returned from a visit to PNG to learn more about the importance of this life-saving service. Since its start in 2015, the hotline has received more than 10,000 calls across the country. People calling the hotline can receive information and referrals to services like the police, hospitals and safe-houses. However, in many cases these services are not accessible so talking to a trained local counsellor on the phone, receiving comfort, support and help in making a plan, is the only assistance they can get.

The hotline has also played an unexpected role following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck PNG’s highlands on 26 February.

During my visit, I learned how counsellors from the violence and abuse hotline have been responding to thousands of calls, providing psychosocial support to those affected by the earthquake. It was amazing to hear how the hotline has become one of the only direct sources of information for a wide range of affected people. The United Nations and other partners have even requested that hotline counsellors (among the few trained counsellors in the whole country) visit the earthquake-affected areas to provide face-to-face counselling and support.

As this programme continues to evolve, everyone at ChildFund is looking forward to seeing the new benefits it can provide vulnerable people in PNG.

Help ChildFund New Zealand keep children safe by becoming a Child Essentials supporter: https://www.childfund.org.nz/campaign/child-essentials

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