Australia Increases Support For Vanuatu Women’s Center

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National program will receive $5.5 million over 4 years

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 20, 2013) – In his two-day visit to Vanuatu Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, Vanuatu took the opportunity to unveil the plaque marking the opening of the new Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC).

Australia has been a proud partner of VWC since 1994 and has agreed a new program of support (AU$5.3 million [US$5.5 million]) for VWC from 2012 to 2016.

Its funding assistance will see the Women’s Centre purchase a permanent facility in Port Vila to help expand counseling, legal and training services, open a new branch in Malampa Province, provide counseling services, access to legal assistance and emergency accommodation, for 15,000 survivors of violence, reach 80,000 through community education and awareness programs and provide counseling and human rights training to 650 members of the Centre's nation-wide network.

In the last 5 years the Centre assisted 10,000 survivors of family violence with, counseling, legal assistance and accommodation and its community education and awareness activities reach over 100,000 women and men throughout Vanuatu.

In addition to its Port Vila premises, the Women’s Centre has three provincial branches, and 41 island-based committees VWC also has an active national network of over 100 male advocates who work actively to promote human rights and prevent and address violence against women and children in their communities.

Australia, under the regional gender equality initiative Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, supports the Vanuatu Women’s Centre in its efforts to end violence against women in Vanuatu.

Violence against women is, sadly, very common in Vanuatu. A comprehensive 2011 national survey found that 60 percent of women experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner, more than 20 percent of women injured are left with a permanent disability.

The Vanuatu Women’s Centre was set up as an independent civil society organization in 1992, providing counseling, support and legal services to survivors of violence in Vanuatu.

They have centers in: Port Vila, Luganville, Tanna and Vanua Lava and also have a vibrant rural network of 41 Committees against Violence against Women and a national network of male advocates.

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