Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

140407 - MR - Ambassador for women and girls visit

07 April 2014

Ambassador’s visit supports ending violence against women

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM, will visit Goroka today to reinforce Australia’s support for Papua New Guinean initiatives to end violence against women and children.

Ms Stott Despoja will witness the signing of an agreement for Australia to provide K650,000 to build a new Family Support Centre Facility at Goroka Provincial Hospital.

“This important facility is to be built thanks to the hard work of Governor Julie Soso Akeke, Goroka Family and Sexual Violence Committee and all stakeholders,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

An initiative of the Eastern Highlands Province Family and Sexual Violence Committee, the centre will be a shelter for survivors of family and sexual violence where they can access medical treatment, counselling and referral support services.

Australia assists PNG to end violence against women by working with the police, prosecutors and magistrates to improve legal protections and other services for survivors.

“In PNG, as in Australia, levels of violence against women are chilling. The impacts on all members of our societies are devastating. But it is preventable. We must work together to create the change necessary to stop violence against women from happening in the first place,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“We need to build respectful and equal relationships between women and men and to value the contributions that women make. Men have an important role to play as strong and responsible advocates for ending violence and I commend the growing numbers who speak out against violence in Goroka and in other parts of PNG.”

In addition to its work to end violence against women, Australia promotes gender equality by supporting women leaders, helping to ensure women and girls can access health services and working to improve economic outcomes for women.

Ms Stott Despoja will see how Australia supports women in the coffee industry through a partnership with CARE and the PNG Coffee Industry Corporation. Australia is providing K1.6 million to the partnership, which promotes women’s advocacy to reform the coffee industry and open up cash-cropping opportunities for women farmers in remote areas of Eastern Highlands.

“One of the best ways to promote economic growth and to build strong communities is to empower women and girls. When women actively participate in the economy, all Papua New Guineans prosper,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

Ms Stott Despoja will also meet with the Highlands Women’s Human Rights Defenders’ Network which, with Australia’s assistance of K900,000, supports and assists victims of violence, including those affected by sorcery-related violence.