The National Child Helpline “1325”, established in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and Medical Services Pacific (MSP), has so far received more than 40,000 calls.
The toll free helpline was established in 2015 to allow people to not only report cases of violence against children but to seek information and counselling services on child welfare cases.
Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary, Dr Josefa Koroivueta singed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MSP executive director Jennifer Poole in Suva today (Friday 10.08.18) to renew partnership with the organisation for another three years.
PS Koroivueta said addressing violence and abuse against children is the top priority for the ministry.
“We stand ready to support the child helpline because we know that abuse and violence against children is a huge concern. In the 18 months up to July 2018, there were over 300 cases of rape and sexual offences of which about 64 per cent were against children. In July alone of the 14 cases, 10 were children. That is the data that haunts us,” PS Koroivueta said.
He said the National Child Helpline is one of the avenues to break the silence on violence and abuse against children.
“We do not want to leave any stones unturned. The sad thing about violence against children is that it is done by the people who take care of the children, family members and some of them are their biological parents. That is something that we should not sit back on.
“The great thing about this child helpline facility under MSP is that it has the ability to separate hoax and genuine calls. They have a strong analytical approach on all the calls by categorising the nature of cases,” PS Koroivueta added.
Ms Poole said out of the 4,000 calls received this year alone, 831 genuine calls were referred to the Women’s Ministry and other respective ministries.
“We learnt that we needed to talk to children about how to use the line, to go out to schools and introduce the child helpline. It’s a listening and information service for children and adults who have enquiries regarding children, child welfare, family law and so forth,” Poole said.
The child helpline, in operation 24/7 since February 2016, has nine counsellors on shift work to ensure the line was operational at all times.