The Australian High Commission is pleased to announce its support to the Social Welfare Division, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, to raise awareness of Human Rights in Solomon Islands logging communities.

The Social Welfare Division was one of eighteen human rights projects announced yesterday, funded by Australia internationally under the Human Rights Small Grants Scheme (HRSGS) 2007-2008. Continuing its long-standing support for practical human rights initiatives, the Australian Government will provide funding, totalling over AUD1.2 million, to support a range of local organisations across the Asia-Pacific region.

"Through our support for grass-roots initiatives we will help people realise their human rights and enhance understanding of international human rights norms, such as gender equality, freedom of expression and the rights of children and people with a disability" the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Hon Bob McMullan MP, said yesterday.

In Solomon Islands, Social Welfare Division received AUD45,000 (SBD289,400) for assisting communities to engage logging companies in addressing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Solomon Islands.

High Commissioner Peter Hooton expressed strong support for the project at the handover to Mr Aaron Olofia, Director of the Social Welfare Division. "Australia is pleased to support the Social Welfare Division's protection and promotion of human rights at the community level. Promoting human rights by encouraging a strong civil society is a high priority for the Australian Government" he said.

Mr Olofia, on behalf of the National Advisory Committee on Children, the Committee dealing with CSEC, and Social Welfare Division, expressed his sincere appreciation for the assistance of the Australian High Commission. CSEC is a problem worldwide. In Solomon Islands, the issue has been highlighted in two recent reports in by UNICEF, UNESCAP and ECPAT, and by the Christian Care Centre.

The Australian funding will provide for the development and delivery of a workshop for stakeholders involved in addressing the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Solomon Islands.

Australia also supports human rights through bilateral, regional and global aid programs. These programs focus on activities promoting good governance, access to justice, gender equality, child protection and the combating of people trafficking. The HRSGS projects will complement Australia's development assistance work and give tangible support to Australia's international human rights efforts.