Here in Solomon Islands, there are a number of awareness raising activities that have taken place this week driven by community, government and businesses as part of the 16 days.
The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is “Family Protection Act Hem ProtektimIumiEvriwan”.
It is great news that thirteen Pacific Island countries have now passed domestic violence legislation to protect women and families from domestic and sexual violence.
The Solomon Islands’ Family Protection Act also promotes survivor safety, health and wellbeing.
Strong legislation is a central priority for the Government of Solomon Islands, and Australia is pleased to support the many ministries and partners that developed and are now implementing the Family Protection Act.
A major success for the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs this year has been the scoping and preparation to roll out SAFENET to the provinces. SAFENET, a 24/7 hotline and referral network, links survivors to justice, policing and community services, including emergency medical, shelter, counselling, family planning and legal assistance.
It is important that as many people as possible know and understand the Family Protection Act and its protections.
This will see more survivors of domestic abuse feel empowered and supported to escape violent relationships, and more perpetrators of violence held to account.
But more can always be done.
Across the world, including in Australia, many women and children suffer from domestic and sexual violence every day.
This week, Australia stood side by side with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs to launch two Australian-funded reports on the experiences of women who use SAFENET services in Honiara.
The reports recommend for further action from SAFENET partners, Donors and community organisations. Australia looks forward to continuing to work closely with all SAFENET members.
Violence against women and children damages families, communities, businesses and the economy.
A survey conducted by the Australian-funded Empowering Women is Smart Business program, which is being delivered by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), showed that domestic violence has a significant impact on workplaces in Solomon Islands.
The program has supported a number of Solomon Islands’ largest companies to adopt policies that provide support for staff members experiencing violence.
I am reaching the end of my time as Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands.
I have been pleased to see that the number of people talking about prevention of domestic and sexual violence has increased over the years I have been here.
More perpetrators are being convicted for their crimes.
Legislative change is a vital mechanism that can lead to behavioural change in our communities.
I thank and continue to encourage the great work being done by the Solomon Islands Government implementing the Family Protection Act across communities.
But we must also remember that the prevention of domestic and gender-based violence is not only the responsibility of the government, NGOs and churches.
It is important that we all raise awareness about the scourge of violence against women and girls present in our communities, villages, cities and countries.
We must always respect our wives, mothers, sisters, aunties and children.
We must all say no to violence.