Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Jennifer Poole opened the UNICEF Workshop on Child Protection for the Social Welfare in the Pacific, in Nadi yesterday morning and called on regional governments to share best practises and strengthen child protection systems.
“Political will is extremely important in the protection of our children and it is surely reflected in the Governments’ budgetary allocation towards programs and in our implementation of policies, laws and commitments to international obligations,” she told participants from 12 Pacific Island countries.
“In sharing the Fijian Government’s perspective on child protection, I am glad to say that it is very much about the future of the country.
The policies of the Fijian Government are focused on building the future of Fiji, whether it be through free bus fares, better student loan programs, free text books, free tuition, or milk for primary students in schools.”
The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has received consecutive budgetary increments in the past several national budgets, for its Care and Protection Allowance Program, whereby children below the age of 18 are receiving 15 per cent more allowance to cater for their educational and basic needs since the program started over a decade ago.
Poole noted a separate allocation for child protection programs and the administration of residential homes for Fijian children who are in need and support for a revised juvenile justice program for young offenders.
“The Fijian Government also funds the Child Helpline to provide an immediate platform for children and parents to seek help in cases of emergency or domestic violence. The Fijian government believes that the quality of our children’s education and wellbeing is an absolute priority because they are the future of the nation,” the Permanent Secretary reiterated.
The week-long workshop is organised by UNICEF and is the first ever Pacific regional workshop on child protection for the social welfare sector.