- Focus Areas
Femili PNG is a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Lae, Papua New Guinea. It is supported by the Australian Government since February 2014, through its Pacific Women initiative. It runs a Case Management Centre (CMC) to assist survivors of family and sexual violence to access the services they need. Pacific Women has pledged AUD$3 million in support of this work for the next three years.
Through its work, the eleven-member team supports women, men and children survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and/or child abuse. It works with clients to develop an intervention plan based on the client’s current situation, their available options and the client’s goals.
Based on the intervention plan, and considering the client’s safety, the CMC assists the client to access the following services if needed: emergency accommodation; police protection; legal recourse; medical and psychological first aid; welfare services; child protection services; family tracing and relocation.
According to the organisation’s Senior Social Worker and Chief Executive Officer Daisy Plana, the Centre began accepting clients in July 2014 and in its first few months of operation has worked with 96 clients.
The organisation believes women are vulnerable to many forms of abuse and that some cultural practices encourage this, for example: bride-price and male-dominated ownership of assets such as land.
“Men need to respect women more, and there needs to be more and better services provided throughout the country for survivors of violence,” said Plana.
Pacific Women spoke to two of the staff members on the critical work they are undertaking.
Denga* (Case Worker)
My main role is managing cases for survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and child abuse who have been referred to the CMC by a partner service provider. I work in collaboration with the available service providers, which include other NGOs and government agencies (such as the police, district court, safe houses, business sector, welfare and family support centre). Together, we support clients in accessing the available services they need. As part of case management, I also do family tracing, relocation and reintegration of clients back into their families, for those who decide to end the violence in their lives through a legal separation.
I face a lot of challenges in managing cases. This includes clients changing their minds about having their husband charged, sometimes because they blame themselves for the abuse. Sometimes there are delays from other services in responding to cases.
CMC has had a lot of triumphs and it is has been very satisfying and rewarding for me personally. Some of these include: having survivors access all the services they need, supporting survivors to end violence in their lives by relocating and reintegrating them to where they are safer, collaborating with the service providers in building a stronger network, and so on. But the most rewarding thing for me is to see a smile on the face of a woman or child, who after going through a lot of abuse, can find comfort and have the feeling of being supported. This motivates me to reach out to help more survivors.
Pauline* (Support Worker)
I have been working with Femili PNG for the past six months now. My main role as a support worker is to help the case workers on follow-ups if they are not available or attending to a new client. I also purchase clients’ food, clothing, toiletries and business start-up kit items when a client is due for reintegration. (Note: business start-up kits support clients to earn a livelihood if they are reintegrated back to their birth families)
While working for Femili PNG for the last six months, I have seen a lot of challenges, such as the limited number of safe houses to cater to women and children who need safe accommodation.
Being one of many survivors of violence made me very interested in working for Femili PNG. The organisation has helped me a lot to overcome the effect of the violence that I myself experienced. Though I sometimes feel traumatized seeing mothers who were badly physically assaulted in my daily work, I now understand and comprehend that women, children and other vulnerable groups in this country have the right to live in a happy family and a safer community.
Being a survivor of violence myself and given the current work that I’m doing, I would like to encourage everyone who is experiencing violence that there is help available – come out and share your stories, your friends or neighbours may be able to help you in one way or another. The more we keep this matter to ourselves, we will never find a way to solve this.
Both Denga and Pauline were in agreement of the important role the organisation is playing in supporting and changing the lives of survivors.
Organisations like Femili PNG are very critical and essential to providing holistic care to survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and child abuse. Femili PNG support for a survivor starts when they enter a service referral pathway until they receive the care they need.
Femili PNG meets one of the biggest needs in PNG. For the last six months, I have been working closely with the case workers, witnessing how badly women can be beaten by their husband or partners, and seeing and hearing stories from little girls who are survivors of sexual abuse at a very young age. I believe that Femili PNG helps a lot of the survivors to acquire justice and supports the survivors if they would like to pursue legal recourse. My short time with the organization has taught me a lot. Now I know where to go and what to do when facing this type of violence. Also, I can guide my neighbours and friends if they are experiencing these types of violence and I can advise them on how to access services.
Femili PNG shared with Pacific Women two client case studies where critical intervention was undertaken by the organisation on the client’s request. Note: Femili PNG obtained permission from those who are featured in these stories, to publish with Pacific Women. All identifying information has been removed for safety and security reasons.
Story of X (mother of two children)
The client was successfully relocated with her two children back to her home province. She had been experiencing on-going intimate partner violence from her husband since marriage until she accessed the Femili PNG’s services. During the client’s initial assessment and intake, she appeared to be severely beaten and had sustained a lot of wounds. She was supported by the case worker in reporting the case to the police. Later on, the client’s husband was arrested. Now he is waiting to be charged. The client was provided with safe accommodation for two weeks by CMC until she received her full medical care/treatment and has been supported through the process of providing her statement to the police. The client decided to be relocated to her home village. The CMC case worker carried out family tracing and established a network with the stakeholders in her home province. She was relocated there with her two children. She was also provided with a business start-up kit so she could be economically independent and able to support the needs of her children.
Story of Y (mother of two children, five months pregnant)
The client was referred to Femili PNG by the Family Support Centre at the hospital. During the initial assessment, the client said that she was constantly experiencing physical and sexual abuse from her husband. She said she had also had several miscarriages as a result of the abuse. She first filed for an Interim Protection Order (IPO) but while on an IPO her husband assaulted her again, breaching the court order. After this, the client took her two children with her and asked the case worker to support her in filing her case at the District Court against her husband for the breach of the IPO. Because of this, the client and her children needed to stay in a safe house for their safety and protection. They also needed assistance with their daily needs such as food and clothing while the case was being managed. While awaiting the outcome of the court case, the case worker carried out family tracing and contacted local service providers to assess the possibility of repatriation. After a few discussions over the phone with the client’s father, the family decided to take care of the client and her children. In December, the client was repatriated to her parents’ home. The village magistrate and police were part of the service providers that agreed to assist with follow up on the reintegrated client’s safety and wellbeing and welcomed the client back to the community. As part of the repatriation, the client was referred for a business start-up kit. Once she gives birth to her third child and is strong enough, she will start working on the land – planting and growing potatoes and broccoli that she can sell at the market. In this way, she will be able to support the needs of her children and herself.
When she was reunited with her family, she thanked the Femili PNG staff and everyone who made it possible for her to access these services and said we could share her story to help other women who might need support.
A business start-up kit provides materials and/or training for the reintegrated client to be able to earn a livelihood. For example, if the client wants to grow produce, the kit could include some of the items they will need to start doing that (that is, seeds or basic farming tools). It depends on the client’s needs and what would be appropriate for them – it is not a standard package.
* Femili PNG does not use the surnames of in staff in public for safety and security reasons
Article prepared with assistance from Femili PNG’s Daisy Plana and the Development Policy Centre’s Ashlee Betteridge. More information is available on the Femili PNG website.