At the end of the Pacific Conference on Ending Violence Against Children, Judge Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren says Samoa has a lot to be proud of in terms of the work being done to end violence against children.
“I think we’re doing extremely well.
“When you’re in your own environment, you wonder how you measure up and whether you are doing okay in comparison to other countries in the region, but I am really pleased with our progress so far.”
The Pacific Conference, the first of its kind which was hosted by Fiji, has ended with positive country presentations and plans with delegates from 13 nations sharing the achievements and challenges they face at the national and grass-roots level. All participants acknowledged the need to implement institutional changes as soon as possible to ensure the development of the region.
In his closing remarks UNICEF Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Mr Dan Toole, congratulated participants for their commitment to affecting change within Pacific communities.
“It’s not all bad, you’re making progress so we should celebrate that. There’s much already being done in the Pacific, on strengthening laws and family safety and child protection.
“It’s evident from the presentations that prudent strategies to end violence against children currently exist. For example, the work undertaken by churches to counsel couples, parenting programmes, and the promotion of positive cultural and traditional values that foster families and communities.
“No community wants to hurt its children. We need to build on that.”
Positive community involvement is crucial to addressing issues of violence, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe, who spoke of the need to hold on to core values such as respect, and to keep the family the centre of efforts.
“I think Samoa is ahead of many Pacific nations, not just in legislation or policies but also because we have the support of the community. That is our greatest advantage.
“From listening to the presentations, I would say that we are on a good path.
“Looking forward, I think we just need to do more and be more resilient in utilising what little resources we have. I believe the greatest asset we have is our culture, our family structures and Christian beliefs,” said Masinalupe.
Acknowledging Samoa’s work to end violence against children, Mr Toole said “Samoa had a fantastic delegation, quite advanced with a keen awareness of the issues and ready to move with a plan that was very good.
“Now it’s about implementing the decisions you’ve taken.”
According to UNICEF, a principle challenge to addressing violence against children is the lack of financial and human resources required to support the services needed. More emphasis on the costs of not addressing violence could assist in lobbying for greater resources at the national level.
Estimates in 2012 place the cost of child maltreatment in the East Asia Pacific region at US$206 billion.