Government will soon introduce a telephone Child Helpline as it pursues various mechanisms to strengthen child care and protection in the country.

This new move which will be spearheaded through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation will become a focal access point for all children in Fiji to seek counseling, advice, services and report cases on abuses.

“Establishing a child helpline is a key deliverable for the Ministry and the timeline for the completion of this helpline is by June 2014. 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”, said the Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta.

“The helpline will maintain the confidentiality of the callers. Twenty-four hour access will be provided through a telephone number, including texting, email address and postage box to the majority of children in Fiji. The helpline will also provide data to highlight gaps in the service system so that appropriate policies and processes can be devised”.

To ensure that this new development meets international guidelines and norms, the Ministry has sought the assistance and support from various stakeholders.

“Child Helpline International has offered to provide support for setting up a helpline in Fiji. The organization is the global network of child helplines in 142 countries, which together receive over 14 million contacts a year from children and young people in need of care and protection.

“The Ministry will also capitalize on the existing service agreements with Empower Pacific and NGO counseling service and other Government Ministries like the Police Force, Ministry of Education) to ensure management of all cases, “Dr Koroivueta said.