19 Nov 2009

New women's crisis centre opens in Tonga

1:40 pm on 19 November 2009

The co-ordinator of a new crisis centre in Tonga for women and children affected by domestic violence says a key part of the organisation's mandate is to lobby for political change.

All but one of the 17 staff from the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children walked out at the end of October to form a new NGO called the Women and Children Crisis Centre.

'Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the national centre, which is still operating, is run more like a quasi-governmental organisation, which doesn't give it the necessary autonomy to push for real change for women.

She says the crisis centre has strong community support, especially at a grassroots level.

"One of the biggest reasons why we did make the decision to walk out, it's based on the women's stories who we have dealt with over the years and children as well and the kind of restrictions of the services that are available to them in Tonga. I mean we want to be able to start making some noise about that."

Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the crisis centre doesn't have any funding yet so staff are working as volunteers.