The new Child Protection bill is in its final stage and ready to be tabled in Parliament.

Minister of Justice and Community Service, John Amos, confirmed this in a statement to the media last week. The Minister said all the needed steps are finished and he praised how well the Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS) and Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (VANGO) worked together to spread awareness across the country.

“The critical new bill proposed actions to promote awareness of risks children face, prevent child abuse and protect vulnerable children,” the MoJCS stated.

“It is an important moment for our country’s children and our Ministry’s teams look forward to sharing the bill’s positive impacts with communities.”

Starting on April 22, an awareness campaign began across Efate and its offshore islands to promote the new Child Protection Bill.

According to the MoJCS, this national campaign is financially supported by the VANGO, through Save the Children Vanuatu, to increase community understanding of the Bill, protect children’s rights, and show the public and government that the NGOs and Civil Society fully support the new bill.

Minister Amos emphasised the importance of this campaign, stating that people need to understand why the Child Protection Bill is important before it is endorsed by parliament later this year.

The Minister said the children of Vanuatu are amongst the most vulnerable members of the society and can experience different forms of issues such as abuse, violence, and abandonment.

“Together it is our society’s duty to protect children,” he said.

The team conducting the awareness campaign comprises staff from the Child Desk, Disability Desk, Department of Youth Sports, Vanuatu Police Force, Save the Children, Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and VANGO.

They launched the campaign on April 22 and spent last week visiting 11 Area Councils on Efate and offshore islands. After SHEFA Province, the team will travel to SANMA, MALAMPA, PENAMA, TORBA and TAFEA Provinces in May.