By Josephine Yaga, Communications Officer, ChildFund Papua New Guinea
Photo: ChildFund and the PNG Counsellors Association are helping to build a new generation of qualified family violence counsellors in Papua New Guinea
In August 2015, ChildFund Papua New launched the first ever national crisis hotline, in partnership with PNG’s Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and FHI 360. This was in response to the epidemic levels of violence perpetrated against women and children, with an estimated two-thirds of women in PNG experiencing physical or sexual violence during their lifetime.
The hotline is the first service in PNG to have professional counsellors available 12 hours a day, from 7.00am to 7.00pm, providing survivors and their families with a range of support services, including referral to service providers, and personal and confidential counselling at the time of the call.
Due to a severe shortage of trained and qualified counsellors in Papua New Guinea, ChildFund has also been working in partnership with the PNG Counsellors Association (PNGCA) to boost the capacity of the counselling profession as a whole.
Most recently, 15 counsellors representing different organisations which provide support services for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) took part in an extensive three-month training program. This included staff from four districts in Central Province, three from City Mission, two from the Joyce Training Institute and six social work graduates from the University of Papua New Guinea.
Wesh Siku, ChildFund PNG Project Leader, says: “We saw the need for counsellors after establishing the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain Hotline. As this service provides information and support seven days a week, we wanted to make sure that we were able to resource the service effectively and increase the number of qualified counsellors available in PNG.
“Having taken part in this training, I now feel confident that we have counsellors who are well-prepared to provide vital guidance on GBV issues for survivors.”
Calls to the hotline are free, and counselling is available in PNG’s three national working languages – English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.
Dorothy Kosh, who works for the City Mission and took part in the training, says: “The need to develop the care industry in PNG is paramount. I feel privileged to learn a range of skills through the training, and thank ChildFund and PNGCA for this opportunity. The skills learnt will help us to help others.”
At the close of the training program, PNGCA President Susan Setae encouraged all participants to apply what they had learned: "Do not go back and shelve your skills. You have to start helping, supporting and comforting others. You have to practice what you have learnt. That is how you will grow."
The 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain is a partnership between ChildFund Papua New Guinea, CIMC (FSVAC) and FHI 360, supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, USAID, ChildFund New Zealand and ChildFund Australia.