The Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) and the Australian government have signed a new agreement to commit core funding of VT650 million to VWC over the next five years.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Sarah deZoeten, and VWC Coordinator, Tatavola Matas, signed the agreement at a ceremony at the VWC office on Monday, 8 November.

VWC delivers critical counselling and legal services to women and children affected by violence across the country.

Through their branch offices in each province and Committees Against Violence Against Women in 35 communities across Vanuatu, VWC is ensuring that even those in rural and remote areas can access assistance. Their new national toll-free crisis line (161) also helps to ensure access for everyone.

The number of women and children accessing VWC’s services has increased considerably over the past five years with a 43 per cent increase in their annual number of clients.

VWC believe that this is, in part, a result of the increased financial and emotional stress from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as an increased awareness of their services. Australia is boosting funding to VWC to enable them to support this increase.

“The work done by Vanuatu Women’s Centre and its network is important as it assists victims of domestic violence to access essential crisis counselling and support services,” said VWC Coordinator, Tatavola Matas.

“VWC has been able to continuously provide these services through the long-standing support of the Australian Government over the past 27 years.

“We also appreciate the commitment Australia has made to VWC for the next five years.

“For this, we sincerely thank the Australian Government.”

Violence against women and children negatively impacts families, communities and limits the development of the entire country.

Alongside their counselling and legal services, VWC also delivers training and awareness activities to change community attitudes around the acceptance of violence in the home.

“Australia has a long-term commitment to supporting VWC’s work because every woman and child has the right to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

“Our nearly three-decade long relationship with VWC is testament to the importance of the work that they do to support women and children affected by violence in Vanuatu,” said High Commissioner deZoeten.

Australia has provided funding to VWC since 1994 as part of its commitment to ending violence against women and girls.