Stopping violence against women and girls will be the focus of a campaign during the two week Arts Festival which gets under way in Honiara next week.Oxfam Australia's Standing Together Against Violence (STAV) program and local partner the Family Support Centre are launching a sticker campaign aimed at young people carrying the message 'Let's make it a Violence Free Festival'.
Val Stanley from Oxfam said that with the influx of people expected to visit Honiara for the Pacific Festival of Arts, there is a risk that violence against women and girls will also increase as it is likely that more alcohol will be consumed because of the party atmosphere.
"We want the Festival to be enjoyed by everyone, including women and girls. By promoting the 'Let's make it a Violence Free Festival' message during this time of celebration, we hope that people will take responsibility for their actions and make sure the Festival activities and sites are safe places for women and girls so they can enjoy this special time without fear of abuse or violence," Ms Stanley said.
"The campaign and stickers will provide information on how to get help from the Family Support Centre which will be operating a 24 hour phone service and a drop in service during working hours."
"Women and girls who experience violence during the Festival can get help by contacting the Centre on 20619 and by calling into the Centre at Tandai Highway (working hours only)."
The stickers will be distributed through outlets before and during the Festival, including the Family Support Centre, the YWCA, the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs and Oxfam.
Family Support Centre Manager, Nairy Alamu, said they will have specialist counsellors and support services available during the festival.
"If any woman or girl experiences violence or abuse during the Festival, please don't hesitate to call or come to the Centre for help, where our specialist support services will be available," says Ms Alamu.
The Family Support Centre is an established specialist indigenous NGO, offering training and awareness raising on gender based violence to communities, schools and groups, as well as confidential counselling and legal advice to women who experience physical, sexual or psychological violence.
The centre works closely with a multi-agency referral network of service providers including the Christian Care Centre, police, medical services and Public Solicitors Office to provide access to a range of support to women, girls and children.
Ms Stanley said the STAV is a five-year, women centred program managed by Oxfam Australia in Solomon Islands to respond to violence against women and girls and is part of the AusAID-funded Solomon Islands NGO Partnership Agreement.
"STAV's approach is to enhance services for women through building the capacity of their partner the Family Support Centre, as well as support for implementation of policy and legislation through advocacy activities and for the development of community-level responses."
If you would like more information on the STAV program, please call Oxfam on 22004.
Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands