PNG child protection laws needs resources
The founder of a charitable group that works with vulnerable children in PNG's capital says the updating of child protection laws needs to be backed up by a boost in resources.
The founder of a charitable group that works with vulnerable children in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, says the updating of child protection laws needs to be backed up by a boost in resources.
Father John Glynn has welcomed the revision of the Lukatim Pikinini Act, which allows courts to declare a child the responsibility of the state and offer them protection.
But Father John says the number of street children in Port Moresby is skyrocketing and social agencies are struggling to cope, and simply changing legislation will do little to address this.
He told Jamie Tahana a lot of money will have to go towards solving the issue, a commitment he doesn't think the government will make.
FR JOHN GLYNN: Well I am delighted I think it is excellent, of course the Lukaotem Pikinini Act we have had that for a few years and I think the updating of it is excellent and the new provisions in the act are excellent they are exactly what we need. So that is very encouraging the other side of the picture is that you don't solve problems simply through legislation. Legislation is supposed to pave the way for action and that is where we are in trouble. For instance this is all about child protection but in the city of Port Moresby with its un countable population, we have I think only three gazetted child protection officers. Even our police are not gazetted child protection officers. So that it is enormously worrying when you need, when you find a child that needs, who needs protection to find someone who is gazetted to do this work. We lack the machinery to give teeth to our legislation. Legislation is excellent is excellent but making it effective is a huge problem for us.
JAMIE TAHANA: So this will need to be backed up with some kind of resourcing and is there any sign of that coming through?
FR JG: No not yet. I was talking to one of our rather rare child protection officers and she was telling me, when a child needs to be taken in for a while they have to take them in themselves. She takes children into here home. It's interesting that looking now at the paper Mrs Gore talks about out of home care centers and in the paper it says Mrs. Gore named a number of our out of home care centers that take care of homeless children with and without support and was grateful for their support. I know of no such centers myself so I am going to have to check this out myself and find out. We have a long way to go in Papua New Guinea to develop our social services and we haven't really started yet.
JT: And Port Moresby's governor Powes Parkop he is saying the problem appears to be getting larger with the number of street kids in Port Moresby. Is this something in your work you are seeing reflected as well?
FR JG: Yes absolutely the problem is getting worse not better this city is desperately overcrowded. Nobody knows the population of the city . Some people say three quarters of a million. The Prime Minister some months ago suggested a million or more. We don't even, we don't know. The census was a disaster a couple of years ago and in any case you can't carry out a census in some of our rather lawless and chaotic settlements around the city. So no one really knows how many people live within the city or around its edges. We certainly don't know how many children there are. There are so many on the streets. My little organisation is, we are overcome by the demands that are placed on us sometimes by settlements who want to establish some kind of services for their children especially pre-schools get them off, get the littlest ones off the street. And I don't know what the ultimate solution is except the government is going to have to really focus on the problem and put serious money really big bucks into cleaning up the whole area of social services of caring for our people in need.
JT: Do you think there is any real interest in doing that from the government? I mean we have seen a lot of big infrastructure projects no one is saying they are not important but do you feel they have their priorities in check?
FR JG: No I don't, no I don't. I drive around the city everyday and we have these incredible sports stadiums going up now and highways and we need a lot of the work that is being done on the roads. But there is so much being done and it is being said that there is something like one billion Kina one thousand million kina is being pumped into preparing for the events that will take place in Port Moresby over the next couple of years starting with the Pacific games here in July. So as someone I know, a very prominent person suggested to me it is all like ancient rome isn't it. Bread and circuses for the people to distract them. So I don't think the government has its priorities right yet.
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