A National Stakeholders Awareness Workshop on the recently passed Child and Family Welfare Act (CFWA) was held this week at the SIBC Conference Room in Honiara.

The Child and Family Welfare Act which has an overarching objective of protecting the wellbeing of our children in this country was passed in Parliament on February this year. 

Following the passage, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services together with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs have been committing to advocacy and information dissemination on the Act at both national and sub- national levels. 

Provinces reached with the joint advocacy programmes so far are Western, Isabel and Malaita. This National Stakeholders Awareness Workshop was built on this platform; however the highlight being integration of pretesting session on advocacy materials developed on the Act.

Participants were invited to reflect and give inputs on the draft advocacy materials that have been brought to the workshop.

Prior to introducing the workshop, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs Dr Cedric Alependava took time out to thank the stakeholders; particularly members of the Protection Committee under the National Advisory and Action Committee on Children (NAACC) for their efforts and inputs on the legislation whilst at the bill or consultation stage.

Given the note of the passage, Dr Alependava acknowledged advocacy and information dissemination on the legislation is the first step in the process ahead to implementing the Act.

Further, Dr Alependava maintained CFWA was introduced as a support legislation to help child/children who have been victims of risks such as child abuse, child exploitation and child neglect.

CFWA outlines what should be done to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, and to strengthen the ability of families and communities to care for their children.

Further, the new Legislation also outlines procedures for responding whenever a child has been abused, neglected or exploited and provides the legal basis for the child protection work of the social welfare department within the Ministry of Health.

Unlike the penal code, the focus of this new law is on support to child victims and their family rather than the punishment of abusers.    

The Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs is committed to uphold, promote, protect and fulfil the rights of women, young people, children and families through effective partnerships, inclusiveness, fairness and creating equal opportunities to advance the wellbeing of the nation.