Children

Government launches 24 hour Helpline for Children

The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation yesterday launched a 24hour service ‘Child Helpline’ which enables young children to call in and make complaints regarding problems that they are facing or not happy with. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar while speaking at the event said over 10,000 calls had been […]

Staff Writers

April 9, 2016 10:20 am

The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation yesterday launched a 24hour service ‘Child Helpline’ which enables young children to call in and make complaints regarding problems that they are facing or not happy with.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar while speaking at the official launching of the 24 hour service for National Child Helpline at Medical Services Pacific Office in Suva. (Team Women Fiji/Facebook)
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar while speaking at the official launching of the 24 hour service for National Child Helpline at Medical Services Pacific Office in Suva. (Team Women Fiji/Facebook)

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar while speaking at the event said over 10,000 calls had been received through the Helpline.

With the data that we receive on a quarterly basis through the Medical Services Pacific, I can confirm today that as of January 2015 to February 2016, a total of 10,304 were received, an average of 736 calls per month, and an average of 24 calls per day.

However, calls are further categorized under genuine, prank, silent, testing and voice mail. Genuine cases in 2015 make up 8 percent of the total calls received. These genuine calls are then referred to the Ministry of Children, to facilitate further referrals to relevant agencies for interventions accordingly.

The child helpline will now offer a daily 24-hour service. This has been made possible through the strengthened partnership between the Fijian Government and 3 telecommunications companies, Vodafone, Digicel, Telecom Fiji and the Medical Services Pacific (MSP).

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Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar with the Minister for Education, Hon. Mahendra Reddy during the launch of the 24-hour service for the National Child Helpline at Medical Services Pacific in Suva yesterday. (Team Women Fiji/Facebook)

The toll-free helpline number ‘1325’ provides a direct focal access point for all children in Fiji to seek counselling, advice, referrals for support services and to report cases of child neglect and abuse. This call centre service for children is an initiative of the Fijian Government that was established in January last year and it initially offered only 12 hours of service.

Now with the 24 hour service, more callers will be able to access the helpline at any time of the day or night. The Ministry will work with MSP to increase awareness programs in schools and communities to raise awareness on the Helpline, more so to minimize the prank calls on the Helpline.

A report from MSP shows that child neglect, physical abuse and emotional abuse seems to be the most prominent issues reported through the Child Helpline. Among other issues raised were on child labour, peer relationship support, education needs and addressing family disputes and child welfare issues.

Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr Mahendra Reddy said the Helpline offers a new dimension to child protection.

Everyone should take ownership of this number ‘1325’ and it should become a number for protected growth and development of our children. The expansion of the helpline hours will enable more children to access the helpline and it should be a number that should be widely disseminated.

Medical Services Pacific Executive Officer, Mrs Jennifer Poole said the Helpline is beneficial to not only children but it’s used by teachers and parents as well.

The line is open for children, youth and adults to discuss issues and obtain assistance. However, the line is also open for teachers who daily deal with the issues of children and bear a significant burden, particularly in times of disaster when the school system is disrupted and families stressed and burdened.

The service is supported by qualified telephone counsellors who speak Hindi, I-taukei and English. Fiji is one of the 145 countries around the world who have the national child helpline.

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