Family and sexual violence (FSV) services in Hela Province have been given a major boost with the opening of the Tari Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU).
The purpose-built unit significantly enhances the ability of police to investigate and prosecute family and sexual violence, child abuse and similar crimes and provide vital support to survivors and their families.
The K1.6 million unit, which includes private interview and counselling rooms, a children’s play area and disability access, was built with support from the Australian Government through the PNG-Australia Partnership.
It is the 27th FSVU to be established with Australian Government support and is part of a network of 47 FSVUs now operating across PNG.
Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp, who joined Hela Governor Phillip Undiallu and RPNGC Deputy Commissioner Anton Billie in officially opening the Tari FSVU, said the facility was the culmination of more than five years of effort by many including the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the Hela Provincial Administration, women advocates and community organisations.
“PNG has robust laws against family and sexual violence, but it is often down to units like the one we formally open today to help translate these laws into actions that protect survivors and their dependents, hold perpetrators to account and make communities safer,” Mr Philp said.
“Gender based violence is a significant challenge globally, including in PNG and Australia. It destroys families, communities, and economies. Tackling it requires coordinated community and government action to change mindsets and improve responses.”
Sergeant Alice Arigo, who founded the RPNGC’s Family and Sexual Violence Desk at the Tari Police Station in 2014, is the Tari FSVU’s inaugural Officer in Charge.
Sergeant Arigo said demand for the FSVU, and related services was expanding rapidly in Hela as awareness of laws against FSV grew.
In 2019 alone, the province’s three Family Support Centres helped more than 1500 survivors of rape, sexual assault and family and intimate partner violence, many of them children.
The PNG-Australia Partnership is also funding national media and SMS campaigns to promote the 1-Tok Kaunselin free helpline 7150 8000; providing trainings to Village Court and District Magistrates on the Family Protection Act, protection orders and sorcery accusation related violence; and training to RPNGC and Public Prosecutors to improve the investigation and prosecution of FSV cases.