Papua New Guinea’s first national tele-counselling service marks one-year anniversary

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 31 August, 2016: Papua New Guinea’s first freecall national counselling hotline – the “1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain” (715-08000), providing support for family and sexual violence issues – has received 2,576 calls in its first year of operation, with 1,653 calls resulting in counselling sessions and referrals, ChildFund PNG reported today.

Since the service was launched on 20 August, 2015, the top three incidents prompting a call to the hotline were emotional abuse, physical violence and threats of harm. There were 94 reported incidents of child abuse.

Encouragingly, both men and women are using the hotline for confidential counselling and referrals – with half the people seeking help being men (49 per cent).

“Many users of the hotline called because they were concerned about their welfare or the welfare of family members, including children,” said Wesh Siku, ChildFund PNG’s senior project officer for the hotline. “These issues can be tough to talk about but this is why the hotline was developed – to provide a safe, confidential avenue to seek help.

“The trained tele-counsellors use their skills and experience to best respond to the situation of each caller. As well as providing initial support – including information, crisis counselling and safety planning – the tele-counsellors can refer callers to other service providers for further assistance, such as the police, medical and legal services, welfare agencies and safe houses.”

While calls for help have come in from all 22 provinces across PNG, the five provinces that recorded the highest number of calls were Central Province, Southern Highlands, Chimbu, East Sepik and Morobe.

“An awareness-raising campaign was piloted in three provinces, all of which feature in the top five,” said Mr Siku. “The nationwide rollout of this campaign is likely to result in a more even spread of callers from across Papua New Guinea.”

The data also shows that both survivors and perpetrators of violence are using the hotline service. Almost two-thirds of cases (60 per cent) recorded in the first year were survivors needing help for a range of issues relating to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The remaining 40 per cent were perpetrators wanting to change their violent behaviour.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence, who recently visited the hotline call centre in Port Moresby, said: “This is a strong start for a service that is still in its infancy. To know that so many people affected by violence are already being supported is extremely encouraging.

“A service like this is a positive step forward to address the extreme rates of violence in PNG, which is devastating families and communities,” Mr Spence added. “Reducing the level of violence in homes and communities is critical for children’s wellbeing, and the future development of the country.”

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.

About 1-TOK KAUNSELIN HELPIM LAIN

The 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 will be 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. The operating hours are between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week. Call 715-08000 to access the service.

About ChildFund Australia

ChildFund Australia is an independent and non-religious international development organisation that works to reduce poverty for children in the developing world. ChildFund Australia is a member of the ChildFund Alliance – a global network of 11 organisations which assists more than 14 million children and families in 63 countries. ChildFund Australia is a registered charity and is fully accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which manages the Australian Government’s overseas aid program. ChildFund began work in Papua New Guinea in 1994, and undertakes child-focused community development programs in the Central Province and National Capital District. ChildFund PNG is the representative office of ChildFund Australia. Visit www.childfund.org.au

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