Solomon Islands’ first Domestic Violence Counselling Guidelines will soon be available publicly to help improve support to victims of gender-based violence.
“I’m thrilled to see that we now have a framework that represents the voices of Solomon Islanders from various settings including the most remote and rural communities,” said Vaela Ngai, Supervising Director for the Women Development Division, Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs.
“These Guidelines are significant as evidence shows the most effective programmes are those that are tailored to the specific contexts in which they operate,” said Ms Vaela.
The Guidelines’ development is led by the Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA) in partnership with UN Women through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.
The strategic development of the Guidelines is the result of extensive nation-wide consultations and the recent two-day national Validation Workshop, held from 4-5 September in Honiara, on the second draft of the Guidelines workshop, involving national and provincial government, non-government, faith-based and other organisations from all nine provinces.
Importantly, they have been designed by, and for, Solomon Islanders. They provide guidelines and minimum standards for domestic violence (DV) counselling services, and support DV counsellors to provide better quality support to victims, usually referred to as survivors.
“MWYCFA strongly acknowledges UN Women and the Pacific Partnership programme, supported by the European Union and Australian Government, in assisting with the process of conducting country wide consultations for the national Framework,” Ms Vaela said.
“These Guidelines will contribute to strengthened domestic violence counselling skills at national and regional levels, supporting DV counsellors working with many of the 64 per cent of the nation’s women experiencing physical or sexual intimate partner violence‒ twice the global average,” she said.
Soon to be endorsed by the Cabinet of Solomon Islands, the Guidelines will require DV counselling service-providing organizations to meet minimum accreditation and registration counselling standards in order to be registered in the Government’s Domestic Violence Counselling Registry. The Registry includes a Code of Ethics and Practice standards as well as clarity around training requirements and support.
The quality of domestic violence counselling will also be strengthened through the planned clinical supervision of, and support for, domestic violence counsellors at national and regional levels.
“The aim of becoming registered is to ensure public safety for victims/survivors of genderbased violence seeking domestic violence counselling services,” said Ms Vaela.
The Guidelines national consultations involved the SAFENET Referral and Response Network of government and non-government organisations who provide services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Members of the SAFENET network in Solomon Islands continue to grow, and include: MWYCFA, Ministry of Health and Medical Services; Royal Solomon Islands Police Force; Public Solicitors Office; Family Support Center; Christian Care Center; and Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association.
SAFENET is supported by UN Women through the Pacific Partnership in collaboration with UN agencies and partners, building on previous joint programmes such as the UN-Solomon Islands Government Joint Programme and the United Nations Joint Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence (Essential Services Package or ESP). The ESP was piloted worldwide, including in Solomon Islands and Kiribati with support from UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from the Australian Government.
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SAFENET: SAFENET is a network of government and non-government organizations aiming to strengthen referral and coordination of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) services in the Solomon Islands. It aims to streamline the assistance being provided to survivors and help them access more timely and necessary services. It has four inter-connected components: SGBV direct services and support; referral to other service providers through an agreed and coordinated formal referral process; prevention and advocacy programmes; and a governance and accountability framework. The SAFENET network is led by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA) supported by UN Women, through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership).
Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls: The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors. The programme will build on the decades of work led in the region by civil society and governments to address this issue. The EUR 19.5million programme is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and cost-sharing from UN Women (EUR 0.6m). The Pacific Partnership is being jointly coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office.