Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop yesterday announced that Australia will provide an additional A$5 million for the Prevention of Family Violence Program to help prevent incidents of family violence in Solomon Islands.
Ms Bishop made the announcement while visiting Burns Creek Village on the outskirts of Honiara during her visit to Solomon Islands.
While at Burns Creek Village, Ms Bishop and a high level delegation of Australian Parliamentarians, met with community members being supported by World Vision’s Channels of Hope for Gender project, a faith-based initiative to change violent behaviour towards women.
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM was also part of the delegation.
Australia’s new funding will support the expansion of this project, initially targeting high risk areas for violent behaviour towards women as a result of the country’s ethnic tensions (Weathercoast) and the February 2013 tsunami (Temotu Province).
“Solomon Islands rates of violence against women and girls are much higher in the Pacific than in other parts of the world. Much of the violence against women and children occurs in homes, with 64% of women reporting abuse by their spouse or partner – double the global average,” Ms Bishop said.
“Australia’s support to existing and new community level action will help prevent violence at home and also support civil society groups, services providers, churches and government agencies that are working to prevent family violence.”
“Our support continues to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to improving the lives of women in the Pacific. Women who live free from violence can contribute to economic growth, have better health outcomes and gain more leadership and education opportunities,” Ms Bishop said.
Australia’s new support includes:
• A$3.9 million over three years to support existing and new community level action to prevent violence from happening in the home; and help to establish coalitions between the civil society groups, services providers, churches and government agencies that are working to prevent family violence.
• A$1 million over two years to support World Vision’s Channels of Hope for Gender project to engage with faith and community leaders to take action to change negative social attitudes. The project will initially help to reduce family violence in 30 communities in Temotu and Guadalcanal Provinces.
• A$100,000 over three years to support the Christian Care Centre - the only refuge in Solomon Islands for women and children escaping family violence - to provide training and counselling, as well as organisational management.
World Vision Solomon Islands Country Director, Andrew Catford, said the Channels of Hope for Gender project works with churches and community leaders to change people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.
“We are grateful for Australia’s ongoing support to address the endemic issue of gender -based violence in Solomon Islands,” Dr Catford said.
“The Channels of Hope approach is impacting positively on people and communities. We are starting to see how it is transforming people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours regarding women, but there is still much work to be done.”