Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Social Welfare Division together with Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA), Non-Government Organisations, Donor Partner representatives and Church representatives celebrated the commencement of the Child and Family Welfare Act 2017 Wednesday this week.
An open stage celebration marking the launch was held in the morning while a dinner celebration where the Minister of Health and Medical Services officially launched the Act was conducted
The open stage launch started with a parade from the Honiara City Council (HCC) to the SMI field, Town Ground.
In her opening remarks MHMS Social Welfare Principal Officer, Marion Mua stated 28th Wednesday September marks a significant step towards the country’s strong commitment to strengthen national efforts to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of our children in Solomon Islands.
“Through researches and data collected over the years – it is disheartening to say that incidences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of our very own children in Solomon Islands is very high from researches conducted and data gathered. One of the highest in the Pacific”, highlighted Mrs. Mua.
She adds, thus the government took a strong stand and began a legislative reform back in 2009 and in 2017 passed the “Child and Family Welfare Act”.
She explained the Act outlines the Government’s commitment to improving services to strengthening family and community caring practices and to ensure a timely and appropriate response to all children in need of care and protection.
“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Social Welfare Division has been given the responsibility to act as a driver to ensure that systems are in place and functioning, strengthening the capacity for prevention, and providing response services when and where appropriate.
“However, the Government also recognizes that children’s well-being and protection is a SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, and that well- functioning system requires a collaborative approach between all Government agencies, NGO’s, faith-based organisations, community elders and families”, said Mrs. Mua.
“Violence against children happens every day and everywhere and while it harms children the most, it has a negative impact on our society. It undermines stability environment for our children. By virtue of your presence here today- the joining of government officials, civil society, faith based organisations, development partners, the media and children themselves- we recognize that there is a deep commitment that we must always protect our children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in Solomon Islands”, said Mrs Mua.
Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs Permanent Secretary Dr. Cedrick Alependava in his keynote address said the legislation is purposely to provide Welfare and protection of our children, at the same time it is to strengthen families and promote wellbeing of children, aimed to ensure basic rights of children, including right to life, right to protection, right to development and right to participation.
“The DCGA Government fully supports every activities with regards to Children and Family policies as we as legislation- like the Overarching UN CRC & CEDAW, SI Constitution, Family Protection Act 2014 and now the C&FWA 2017 in Solomon Islands aimed to address the needs of the children, said Dr. Alependava.
He said the launching of the new Child and Family Welfare Act 2017, demonstrates our intensified commitment to the long term vision of the government to build the society with peace and harmony, political stability, security, order, sustainable and equitable development with firm adherence to the principle of democracy and respect for human rights and dignity.
“On behalf of DCGA Government I would like to take this opportunity to profound thank SIG Government Ministries, FBOs, NGOs, Development Partners and Stakeholders who are working the area of trainings, educating, caring, healing, protecting, promoting wellbeing for our children and families in Solomon Islands.
Dr Alpendava urged everyone to work together in strong partnership as implementation of the CFWA 2017 commences. Let us always keep in mind that children are our future human resources and our future leaders, therefore we must ensure that they are to be loved, supported and protected from birth till adulthood, so that we continue to
The government remains determined to take any measures to prevent all forms of child abuse and exploitation such as illegal child labour, child prostitution and trafficking, and other mistreatments.
UNICEF SI Chief of Field Office, Dr Zelalem Taffesse congratulated the Solomon Islands Government
“Now that the Law is in effect, I would like to urge the Government to increase investments in the Social Welfare Division of the MHMS. The Division needs additional staff, operational funds as well as technical support to pull in all stakeholders in the referral Pathway for the protection of children. I would like to thank the Australian Government for the continued support in this space and reiterate UNICEF’s continued commitment to the Solomon Islands”, said Dr. Taffesse.
At the event, Save the Children Solomon Islands and DFAT guest speaker also congratulated the MHMS Social Welfare Division and all Stakeholders who put their efforts towards the act.
They assured that they will continue to support and work closely with Solomon Islands government in support of similar legislations.