A joint capacity building workshop on the Family Protection Act (FPA) and Child and Family Welfare Act (CFWA) was held in Honiara, last week at Bethel Conference Room, Honiara. Participants attended were mainly Social Welfare Officers from the Provinces and Honiara, and officers from the Children Development Division at the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA), and their counterparts from the Provinces.

Funding support for the four (4) day event was provided for by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA) and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), the lined ministry responsible for Social Welfare Division.

Prior to the deliberation, the workshop had five (5) key predetermined objectives to achieve, and these includes; review key components of FPA/CFWA, differentiate the roles of the sponsoring ministries on the legislations; differentiate the power and authority of institutions implicated on the legislations; agree on timeframe for ongoing programmes for the Acts, and finally to identify the gaps for capacity building and skills training on the new Acts.

In giving the official welcome, Acting Director for Social Welfare Division, Ms Linda Tupe sincerely acknowledged the participants for honouring the invite, and having attended to the workshop.

“Your kind participation reflected the level of support your provinces had towards mainstreaming child protection programmes and activities in the provinces and community. FPA and CFWA are seen as compatible legislations, in that they help to address issues of domestic violence that occur at our homes and communities, thus having seen the prevalence of these issues around, it is high time we organise training on these legislations for you so that you could apply the knowledge and practices learnt in your work environment,” Ms Tupe maintained.

Key presentations and discussions at the workshop were facilitated by officials from UNICEF, Social Welfare Division and MWYCFA. In going through the legislations, the participants were handed copies of the Acts, as well as their summary notes. In mapping out ways ahead for information dissemination and implementation of the Acts, the participants were invited to discuss the challenges they have faced in dealing with domestic violence issues and related at the community level. Key challenges raised and noted includes; need for improve attitude & behaviour, adequate services and etc. At the final day of workshop, the participants brainstormed solutions for the challenges raised. Responses gathered have now been put as joint activities for execution in the New Year.

FPA have been declared for commencement on April 2016. Following the note for enforcement, some girls or women who have been victims of domestic violence have resort to use the legislation for protection. Whilst some significant training on FPA is being done with the enforcement team so far, there are commitments devoted to strengthen the regulatory framework required in the Act. The CFWA on the other hand, was passed at the parliament on early February this year.  The Social Welfare Division and MWYCFA had pulled resources into raising awareness on the new legislation at the national and sub-national level, whilst waiting the date for commencement.

In closing the workshop, the Director of Children Development Division, Mr. Lusi at MWYCFA reiterate thank you to all the participants for patience and support. The four (4) day event has been long but rewarding, given the platform for interactions provided and the many practical experiences shared at the workshop. Mr. Lusi maintained the experiences shared and received have helped the government to note down ways to strengthen advocacy on the legislations with provinces and communities. Also, experienced shared have also helped as learning opportunity for other participants.

In response to the acknowledgment, Mr. Philip Lonsdale, Social Welfare Officer for Isabel Province, gratefully thank UNICEF, SWD and MWYFA for sponsoring the workshop. It was indeed a fruitful workshop, as a lot of information and resources were shared with the participants on these legislations. Having equipped with these knowledge and resources, Mr. Lonsdale noted they will try to put what’s being heard and learnt into practice in their work programmes in the provinces.