‘Child-centred response efforts paramount’

Empower Pacific Staff during the Disaster and Preparedness Training today in CADT Nadave. Picture: Supplied

UPHOLDING principles of child protection and ensuring response efforts are child-centred are paramount during disasters, says Australia Government’s Counsellor for Development Cooperation for Fiji and Tuvalu, Christina Munszer.

While opening the Disaster Preparedness training workshop in Nadave Tailevu, Ms Munszer said Australia had a zero tolerance policy for child exploitation or abuse and that there should be relevant policies and safeguards in place.

“The protection of children and their rights is a shared responsibility, not just during times of disaster but at all times. “Unfortunately, during and after a disaster, women and children are often more vulnerable to abuse and violence — and if they aren’t treated with care and dignity, there is a higher recurrence and risk of child abuse and gender-based violence.

“The assistance also requires an appreciation of diversity — that people experience disasters differently and therefore require different services to meet their needs. “Service providers need to be attune to this diversity to ensure no one is discriminated against during disasters,” said Ms Munszer.

Thirty-three Empower Pacific staff members from Suva, Lautoka and Labasa are participating in the two-day workshop on disaster preparedness.

The workshop will cover topics such as gender equality and social inclusion, child protection and data collection and analysis.

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