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Project background

Ni-Vanuatu society is founded on strong family and kinship networks which together with the church have traditionally provided the social safety net for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.  Vanuatu has changed dramatically over the last two hundred years, initially with the arrival of church missionaries and European traders, followed by colonisation, independence and then globalisation.

Protecting children from abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation is an issue needing urgent attention in Vanuatu. Research underpinning the Child Protection Program design reveals the prevalence of child abuse across the country and identifies some of the contributing factors. These are further compounded in some communities, as the traditional family and Kastom support systems are challenged. So while traditional and Kastom systems are adapting to fit a modern world, these adaptations may not meet the basic human rights needs of the population.

In the second half of 2014, the overarching CP Program for Save the Children in Vanuatu, which encompasses the Footprints funded, underwent some restructuring to focus our work on the continuum of care from community to national policy.

Project impact

Specific Activities that were conducted towards the achievement of this project’s objectives included:

Trained 44 students of the Australia-Pacific Technical College in their graduating semester.  These graduates were studying to become either Kindi teachers or Youth Development workers and this training was the first time that CP awareness had been included within their curricula.

In co-operation with CARE, Save the Children successfully advocated for the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team to create a ‘Protection Cluster’ that will provide guidance on Child Protection and safeguarding issues in times of disaster.  It is envisioned that this Cluster will work closely with the Education and Health Clusters and the National Disaster Management Office to ensure that children are provided safe environments and protected from neglect or abuse following natural hazards.

Selecting community schools for intense positive discipline mentoring and coaching over the coming 2 years in Santo and Ambae islands.

Conducted a 2 day workshop with Vila East primary school focusing on child safeguarding and policy development.

Overall, these initiatives have fed into the work that Save the Children is conducting to strengthen Child Protection systems throughout Vanuatu.  As highlighted previously, the language of Child Protection is new to many strata of ni-Vanuatu society so much of the work focuses on creating spaces in which to have conversations with various parts of the community.  By facilitating this dialogue simultaneously with national and provincial governments, children, future leaders, teachers, parents, chiefs and members of various organisations and institutions, we are expecting to see a significant increase in the function and performance of child protection systems in the coming years

Mostly, the reception to this work has been positive among the various groups of participants despite the obvious sensitivity of some of the issues involved.

The work that is planned for 2015 will focus on very targeted and high-quality mentoring for a smaller number of communities, as well as training and support for five organisations that work with children and strong advocacy at the national level through the Child Protection Working Group.

What next? 

The project is scheduled to continue into and through 2015.  In aiming to affect real and positive change for students and schools,  two Community Engagement Officers will both begin working closely with two communities each.  They will both be responsible for working directly with students, parents, teachers and school administrators and will provide targeted trainings and materials to these various stakeholders. The content of these tools is currently being developed with technical input being provided by Save the Children Australia Child Protection experts.  The close and ongoing relationship that these Community Engagement Officers will foster with their respective communities is a novel aspect of this approach.

Can I visit the project? 

Due to the geographical separation of project sites from Port Vila, the sensitive nature of the project and the involvement of children, visits would not be appropriate.

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