The Vanuatu Family Health Association and other NGOs are currently undergoing an advocacy training workshop at the Coconut Palms Resort in Port Vila.

The Executive Director for VFHA, Mr Dunstan Tate said that the South Pacific Community (SPC) is facilitating the three-day workshop and is funded by the Australian Government through Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The workshop began today (yesterday) and will end on Thursday- the purpose of this training is to give a more in depth knowledge and skills in how to advocate for issues affecting the country that needed change,” he said.

“Issues such as, humanitarian issues on family planning, abortion and gender violence that needed change, simply advocacy is a tool used to bring about change in a law, policy or attitude of people.”

Mr Tate said that training targets all issues affecting communities at the village level right up to the national level.

“Since all levels of society is regarded in the workshop, we have participants from NGOs such as Vanuatu Red Cross, VFHA, Wan Smol Bag, Vanuatu Society for Disabled People, Women’s Centre, VASANOC and Shefa Provincial Health,” he said.

“These are our partners and why we asked them to be part of this workshop is because some issues can’t be tackled by one person, we need our partners to be able to tackle one particular issue to bring about change.”

Mr Tate said that reasons why an advocacy training was needed was there are issues such as abortion which is illegal in Vanuatu but it will only be allowed due to a pregnant mother’s medical condition.

“Medical conditions such as high blood pressure during pregnancy may lead to aborting of a baby but then another issue such as rape- a girl gets raped by a boy, the boy goes to prison and the girl gets pregnant with a baby conceived without her consent and will not be loved by her parents and not considered unwanted by the community,” he said.

“What can we do to help such incidents, or maybe a disable woman was raped and fell pregnant, can abortion be the answer to relief her of the pain and negligence of her and the baby in the community- these are the reasons why advocacy is important, so we can lobby for change in our national laws or policy to bring a better change.” READ MORE