One of the major priorities for the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is the development of the Domestic Violence Helpline, says the ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta.

“The Ministry is committed to the establishment of the Domestic Violence Helpline. It has a budgetary allocation of $170,000, and we are almost in the final stages now, where we are going to award the tender to the appropriate service provider,” Dr Koroivueta said.

Dr Koroivueta added that the Ministry also looked forward to the upcoming budget announcement.

“We are looking at the amendment to the Ministry’s Annual Corporate Plan, and seeing the initiatives that we had set for year 2016, those initiatives will also continue. For us it is the rearrangement of our business priorities, rearrangement of our services but not losing out on the rationale behind it because we are dealing with services for women, children, people living with disabilities and senior citizens. We do know that we will be accountable for the actions, particularly for the key performance indicators, that we target in that regard,” Dr Koroivueta said.

The Domestic Violence Helpline will be first of its kind to be commissioned in Fiji. Women who are victims and survivors of domestic violence will be able to seek counselling services for free, whereby they can talk about their problems to a qualified professional and get relevant advice and support. Concerned members within the victim and survivors network would be able to seek advice and support as well on behalf of a victim.

The Permanent Secretary said that the Domestic Violence Helpline would also strengthen the partnership between government agencies and Non- Government Organisations who directly and indirectly deal with domestic violence cases.

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Center’s Somebody’s Life, Everybody’s Business Report, highlighted that Fiji’s rates of violence against women and girls are among the very highest in the world: 64 percent of women who have been in intimate relationships have experienced physical and or sexual violence by their husband or partner.

Meanwhile, the National Child Helpline has to date recorded of the total 11,774 calls received, 922 genuine calls while 2521 were listed as test calls, 3125 as silent calls, 2594 prank calls and 2612 were voicemail calls. Main issues reported through the National Child Helpline included child neglect, child physical abuses, child sexual abuse, child emotional abuse, gender based violence and issues concerning family welfare.