Our annual Pacific Fashion Festival (PFF) occurred 3 days ago on Saturday 28 October at Cloudland in Brisbane. The committee and I are grateful and humbled with the success of our 4th PFF event, which involved a full house of family members, friends, supporters and dignitaries supporting our cause. The venue was the best one yet as it catered well for all that we set out to achieve through our fashion show.
More on PFF coming up in the ‘fashion’ category.
As each year goes by, what PFF stands for gets stronger, our message gets louder and our reach gets deeper. Our committee, which consists of a little over 10 ladies and I, advocate against gender-based domestic violence in our local community of Brisbane with an international reach through our social mediums. Hailing from different islands in the South Pacific, our target market are fellow islanders in Australia with ground work conducted in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Femili PNG, a non-governmental organisation established in 2013 and based in Lae, east of PNG, is a group that we have begun to work alongside with.
The organisation runs a Case Management Centre, to assist survivors of gender-based violence, in accessing services they may need.
This year, we were blessed to have Evan Bieso from Femilo PNG fly into Brisbane to be our special guest speaker at our PFF event.
Evan, a Case Work Manager, joined the organisation in 2015 specialising in crisis management, safety planning and counselling amongst other tasks.
Evan spoke about the atrocities of sexual and family violence that occur against women and children in PNG. She shared that some women experience abuse from their partners right at the start of their relationship, sometimes during pregnancy and even after their children have grown.
One of the biggest issues that perpetuates this cycle in PNG’s society is sorcery-based accusations. An average of 72 people per year are victims of sorcery-based violence with around 30 people per year killed due to accusations alone.
These types of brutality are triggered by a death in either a family or in the community. Accusers then search out the “witch” or sorcerer that has brought death upon those who’ve passed. Once the community gets hold of this certain person, they are tortured, beaten and even burnt at the stake.
Blog on stats can be found by clicking here.
Evan relayed that Femili PNG has stepped in to provide safe shelters for victims.
The organisation also provide services ranging from medical and psycho-social care, police protection, legal resources and vocational training.
The group now work alongside existing service providers in Lae such as the police, prosecutor’s office, orphanage, government social workers and other organisations.
Femili PNG envisions working closer with other groups in both PNG and Australia, with the goal of having a national impact in addressing issues of abuse.
The organisation plans to offer training in case management, disseminate good practise and open a new centre in PNG’s capital city of Port Moresby.
Additionally, the group intend to appoint a Development Officer to be based in Canberra.
In April 2018, Femili PNG will host their yearly run in Canberra for fundraising efforts to support survivors back home.
The choice of events include a 5km course (with provision for strollers and wheelchairs), 10km course, Half Marathon (21.1km), Marathon (42km) and Ultra Marathon (50km).
Click here to donate: Run for Femili PNG in Canberra in 2018.
PNG has a long way to go in eradicating violence from their communities and in changing the mindset of its people. However, an open dialogue about these atrocities have begun, which has lead to action being implemented against abuse at its grassroots. With centres like Femili PNG and case managers such as Evan Bielo, the nation has a hope for change in generations to come.
We as the PFF committee do our part to help but there is still so much more that needs to be done. If you would like to contribute to Femili PNG’s fundraising efforts, click here for more details.
“Sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it,” Anonymous.
If you are experiencing or know someone who is suffering from any type of abuse, I encourage you to speak up, report the matter to the police and expose the perpertrator so that others can be protected. You can call the helpline in your community, for Australia it is 1800RESPECT [1800 737 737].