Christmas surprise: Anti-violence program in Solomon Islands gets funding boost from Australian Government

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Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop and Ambassador for Women & Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja chat with Louise Whitney about her small business.

Solomon Islands children and their families had an early Christmas surprise when Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs visited, giving out toys to share.  While there were plenty of smiles all round, Minister Julie Bishop and her high level delegation of Australian parliamentarians visited the World Vision supported community on a serious matter.  The group was there to hear of World Vision’s work with the Honiara residents to make their community safer through the organisation’s prevention of gender-based violence program, ‘Channels of Hope’.

Strengthening communities such as Burns Creek in Honiara, so that children and their families can lead happy, safe and productive lives is a common goal of World Vision and the Australian Aid program.

World Vision’s successful ‘Channels of Hope’ program received a funding boost, as part of an Australian Government announcement at Burns Creek, confirming $5million to support various organisations’ programs across the Solomon Islands to prevent and deal with incidents of family violence.

Of this, $1.75million of funding will allow for World Vision’s successful Honiara-based ‘Channels of Hope’ project to be replicated in other parts of the country, including Weathercoast and Temotu. Overall funding also includes support to World Vision partner, the Christian Care Centre - the Solomon Islands’ only refuge for survivors of violence.

The Australian delegation chatted with men and women in the community about the positive changes in the village, brought about by World Vision’s support. Minister Bishop spoke with Burns Creek residents who are working to reduce violence, as well as build a stronger community through education and enterprise developments.

“Women and children are part of the future and they must be cared for, they must be valued, just as we would expect men to be cared for and valued, so must women and children.  So, the Australian Government has over the years, provided much support through Australian Aid to a number of projects that are devoted to preventing domestic violence or gender-based violence,” said Ms Bishop.

Australia’s recently announced Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja and Minister Bishop also saw first-hand how a range of other World Vision projects are strengthening the Burns Creek community. They spent time chatting with Burns Creek resident, Louise Whitney about her participation in a business development program, and how she was supported by World Vision to establish a small canteen, providing income for her family.

Savings and Loans group member, Cain Whitney explained the positives of participating in the World Vision initiated project. “It has given focus to our group of members, allowing them to actively save. Whereas before the group, people just spent everything they had, there was no planning for the future. Members are able to focus on saving for school fees, weddings and other important things,” said Mr Whitney.

“What we have seen today, are a number of programs initiated by the community with support from organisations such as World Vision that are trying to tackle this serious community problem of domestic violence, gender-based violence.  And the Australian Government wants to work in partnership with you, to see what we can do to free women and children from violence so that they can lead productive lives and they can contribute to the economy and to the community, thereby contribute to Solomon Islands society,” said Ms Bishop in her address to Burns Creek residents.

“We want to ensure that Solomon Islands thrives and prospers.  We want to make sure that there are opportunities for the young people and that the economy will develop and grow so that this can be a strong and peaceful Pacific Island,” said Ms Bishop.

News Source : Christmas surprise: Anti-violence program in Solomon Islands gets funding boost from Australian Government

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