Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

140408 - MR - Ambassador opens Family and Sexual Violence Unit in Boroko

08 April 2014

Ambassador opens Family and Sexual Violence Unit in Boroko

Police in Boroko, Port Moresby, are better able to respond to the needs of the survivors of family and sexual violence thanks to new facilities to be officially opened by Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM.

Ms Stott Despoja will today open the Royal PNG Constabulary Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) at Boroko Police Station. The FSVU is a designated space for trained officers to respond to family and sexual violence cases in an appropriate and sensitive manner. At FSVUs, survivors receive support with lodging complaints, seeking Interim Protection Orders from the District Court, and linking to safe emergency housing and health services.

“I pay tribute to the dedicated female and male police officers at this and other FSVUs in PNG, who work long and hard to support survivors of violence,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“Their work is removing barriers to justice and improving safety for vulnerable women and children. This FSVU will provide important support for their efforts.

“No country is free of violence against women. We must all – in Papua New Guinea, in Australia, in every country – renew our commitment to speak out against violence in our homes, in our workplaces and in public places.

“Men have an important role to play in creating the respectful and equal relationships between women and men that are the foundation for stopping violence.”

RPNGC Commissioner Tom Kulunga said: “We recognise that family and sexual violence is a huge problem throughout Papua New Guinea and as frontline service providers in the law and justice sector we have to respond appropriately to survivors.

“In order to create an environment for survivors to come forward to report, we need to have dedicated services including police officers who have been specifically trained. This Unit provides that environment.”

Since 2009, Australia has supported the establishment of 12 FSVUs at police stations in 10 provinces, assisting more than 28,000 survivors. A further five police stations are preparing to open a specialist Unit.

Australia has also helped PNG to develop a Family and Sexual Violence curriculum at the Bomana Police Training College, to provide officers with skills and knowledge to respond appropriately and effectively to the needs of survivors.

A Family and Sexual Offences Unit established in the Office of the Public Prosecutor with Australia’s assistance is providing specialist skills to prosecute sexual crimes.

During her visit to Boroko Police Station, Ms Stott Despoja also opened a new Criminal Investigations Division Command building at the station, which houses specialist units including the Sexual Offences Squad.

The command building and FSVU are part of a K2.5 million package of Australian Government support to upgrade the Boroko Police Station facilities and develop officers’ skills.

In Port Moresby, Ms Stott Despoja will also visit the City Mission Haus Ruth refuge and shelter for women and children who survive violence. With Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Brett Mason, she will meet prominent women in business, government and the community. Ms Stott Despoja will discuss Australia’s support for women’s leadership, as a key to promoting economic growth and democracy, reducing poverty and increasing the wellbeing of women, girls and their families.