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Ministry sets up child helpline

Shayal Devi
Saturday, January 04, 2014

THREE hundred and twelve child welfare cases were recorded in the National Child Welfare Register last year.

And these cases comprised teenage pregnancies, child neglect, child abuse — physical and emotional— and child abandonment.

And according to permanent secretary for Women Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Dr Josefa Koroivueta, there were many referrals from the Health Ministry and NGOs about child welfare.

"The ministry is working on a new child helpline which is in progress," Dr Koroivueta said.

"It will become a focal access point for all children in Fiji to seek counselling, advice, services and report cases on abuse.

"Apart from addressing the challenges reported by the children, the child helpline will also provide an access point for concerned adults, parents, guardians and citizens to access the helpline to report abuse and request for information on child related matters."

Dr Koroivueta also said the Ministry would capitalise on the existing service agreements with Empower Pacific, NGO counselling services and other government ministries like the police and Education Ministry to ensure management of all cases.

"The ministry advises that during this school holidays, parents need to be vigilant about the whereabouts of their children.

"Especially when sending the children to any relatives place for holidays, parents need to be ensured about the safety and wellbeing of their children."

NGO Empower Pacific has also been doing its part in helping children.

CEO Patrick Morgam said 114 children and their families had received counselling and social work support from Empower Pacific last year, with predominant referral issues from alternative sources including cases that were domestic-violence related, about sexual or physical harm and neglect.

"We need stricter laws when it comes to children's wellbeing and parents need to be more patient when dealing with children and take lessons on anger management so as to reduce excessive reactions when angry," he said.

The public can seek the assistance of the Child Welfare Unit if they require and can contact 3315585 or 3315754.

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