In a dinner celebration, last night (28th September 2022) the Honourable Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Culwick Togamana officially launched the commencement of the Child and Family Welfare Act 2017.
Passed in 2017, the government in partnership with stakeholders has then worked to set in place all necessary systems and human resources necessary for the implementation of the Act.
The dinner celebration followed an earlier in the day, public celebration, which saw children and their parents, officers from the Ministries of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Health and Medical Services, other line ministries including donors and development partners, non-government organizations, faith based organisations parading the street of Honiara, with speeches delivered, songs and dances performed.
In his keynote address to launch the Act, Dr. Togamana also shared his encounter with a perpetrator of child abuse.
“I also knew of a person who is now serving time at the correctional centre because of sexually abusing his own daughter and there are many countless cases of abuse of children in various forms, some dealt with while other still remain unresolved”.
“Study conducted in 2008 by the Ministry of Women, Youth Children and Family Affairs found that many of our children experience various forms of violence and abuse in their daily lives. These abuses include physical, emotional, neglect, and even sexual. More saddening and concerning is the fact that these abuses are often done by the very people who should be providing the child with all the love and care”,
“furthermore the Demographic Health Survey in 2015 recorded 68 percent of children in the Solomon Islands has experienced some forms of physical abuse in their homes from ages 2-14 years old”, highlighted Dr. Togamana.
He explained that it is for this reason that the government had to intervene with the Child and Family Welfare Act that was enacted by parliament in 2017.
“The commencement of the Act will enhance welfare and protection of our children, strengthen families and promote wellbeing of our children, ensure that families and communities receive appropriate and relevant advice and support in caring for our children who are in need of care and protection and empowered social welfare officers in their role to provide welfare services to families and related matters”, stated Dr Togamana.
Having said that, the Minister used the occasion to make a strong call for solidarity and unity through strengthened partnership, collaboration and cooperation across sectors, and in all levels of governance to tackle violence and abuses against our children.
“Additionally, systems or referral pathways set in place will not work well if people working these systems are not committed and dedicated to providing care and protection for our children. Therefore, I’d also like to call for renewed and strengthened commitment and dedication towards serving our children”, said Dr. Togamana.
The Health Minister assured of the DCGA government’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the Act and every other activity, initiative, program and project that gears towards addressing the need of children including the provision of care, protection, education, service, physical and mental development including the elimination of child trafficking and violence against Children and the promotion of their rights and dignity.
He concluded with a word of thanks and a call for a round of applause to donors and development partners, the Government of Australia, and UNICEF, who have been providing financial and technical support for the Act including all other organizations, who have provided support in various forms.
“It is our achievement and together let’s make it work for our children. Ladies and Gentlemen, as the Minister of Health and Medical Services, it is with great pleasure to stand before you all and announce that the Child and Family Welfare Act 2017 will now commence”, said Dr. Togamana.