UNICEF Pacific is pleased to hand over two new boats, as well as office equipment, today to the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Ms Pauline McNeil, to be used by Social Welfare Offices in Choiseul, Makira and Ulawa Provinces.

The boats, procured with funding support from the Australian Government, are equipped with 40 horsepower outboard motor engines and a complete set of marine safety equipment. The boats will assist the Social Welfare Officers in Choiseul, Makira and Ulawa Provinces to reach remote villages and communities to conduct prevention activities and to respond to child abuse cases.

Violence against children in Solomon Islands has been increasing, with a significant number of reported cases of child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Available data also shows a significant number of children being exposed to family violence in their homes with approximately 38 per cent of women indicating that they suffered sexual assault before age 15.

The Child and Family Welfare Act 2017 mandates the Social Welfare Division, MHMS, with the responsibility to lead and manage child protection services in the Solomon Islands. This division currently has a total of 18 Social Welfare Officers, headed by a Director based in Honiara, including eight National Officers and 11 Provincial Officers, thereby ensuring access to services in each province.

UNICEF supports MHMS with its child protection mandate through technical and financial assistance for the development of child protection legislation and policy framework, planning, and staff capacity building, as well as service delivery including human resources, equipment and operational costs.

UNICEF looks forward to continuing to support the Solomon Islands Government through the Social Welfare Division, MHMS, to prevent and respond to child protection issues in the Solomon Islands , in accordance to the Convention on the rights of the Child ( CRC), targets set in the National Development Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Source: UNICEF