Papua New Guinea’s first free telephone counselling service – 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain – has received more than 5,000 calls in its second year of operation, a twofold increase from its first year.
About 1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN
1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain (715-08000) is a free, confidential phone counselling service providing information and support for anyone in Papua New Guinea experiencing family violence or sexual violence issues. The service is housed in Port Moresby but is available as a free call nationwide. Callers are assisted by trained phone counsellors who can provide immediate crisis counselling at the time of the call, as well as information and referrals to other support services.
Analysis of call data for the last 12 months found that the top three issues for callers were:
· relationship advice;
· physical and sexual violence (mostly perpetrated by an intimate partner); and
· child welfare concerns.
Of those calling about issues involving violence, just over one-third of callers identified themselves as survivors, 20% as witnesses and 2% as perpetrators (a large proportion chose not to disclose their status). Half of all callers to the hotline were male.
ChildFund Papua New Guinea Country Director Manish Joshi said: “In a country where rates of family and sexual violence are at endemic levels, the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain is not only providing a vital and much-needed service, but potentially has saved lives.
“Our objective in launching the hotline was to reduce the levels of violence in families and communities, which we know not only has a devastating impact on women and children but also on the growth of the nation. Our counselling staff provide important guidance and referrals to those personally impacted by violence, but also have the skills to counsel perpetrators, which is an important method of instigating longer-term behaviour change.”
To date, the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain has provided crisis counselling to over 1,400 clients, safety planning to over 600 clients, suicide intervention to 25 clients and information to over 4,000 callers. Counsellors have made over 3,000 referrals to other services, with main referral organisations being police, face-to-face counselling providers, legal advice and Family Support Centres, across the 22 provinces.
Grace, (not her real name) a counsellor at the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain, says each day presents its own challenges and satisfactions. She said: “Challenges are inevitable, but each day I return to do it all over again because I know what a difference I am making to the lives of those who seek the counselling and support we provide.”
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.