MINISTRY WILL NOT CONDONE CHILD BEGGING- AKBAR

No child should be subjected to any forms of child labour says the Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Sofia Akbar.

Mrs Akbar said Government would not condone any form of child labour and child abuse or neglect for that matter. In August this year, the Ministry has carried out a profiling exercise, which showed that there are a total of 23 street beggars in Suva. The Ministry is also carrying out similar profiling exercise in other city and towns.

?A special interest to the Ministry is to ensure that children are NOT subjected to child labour and the Ministry will see to that no child is forced to earn living for his or her family. We would like to advise families to abide by the government?s education policies to ensure that children are in school and not subjected to child labour and it?s sad to note that some of our children are on the streets begging, this is an issue of urgency for the Ministry to address,? Ms Akbar said.

Ms Akbar said that to address issues concerning children, the Ministry would embark on a national consultation with various stakeholders.

?The Ministry will intensify efforts to work together with the Non-Government Organisations and communities to promote the holistic development of children. The Ministry will not condone any forms of child labour and child abuse or neglect.

?As such the government has put in place legislations like the Child Welfare Decree to ensure mandatory reporting of cases by child care professionals like medical officers, police officers, social welfare officers, lawyers and teachers,? she said.

Ms Akbar added that the inclusion of a Children? Portfolio in her Ministry commits the FijiFirst Government to strengthen and provide support to Fijian children across the country.

?The renaming of the Ministry reaffirms the government?s commitment to improving child care services. The Government is also a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the renaming is according to Fiji?s continued obligations to CRC. The 2015 budgetary allocation of $2.5 million will boost childcare services in Fiji.

The Child Protection Allowance?is allocated?$2 million is for the care and support of children of single mothers, prisoners, those cared for by family members or guardians and children in Residential Homes such as Dilkusha Girls Home, Homes of Hope, Lomani Au Children?s Home and St. Meena?s Home – to name a few.

?It also caters for children living with Disabilities. This funding allows?2,243 children to?benefit. And we expect that number to increase as awareness spreads about the assistance that is available,? she added.

The Government has also invested a total of $100,000 into building a rehabilitation centre for street beggars in Fiji. The new complex that is expected to be opened by the end of this month will provide shelter, basic care need for the homeless along with opportunities for vocational training, and employment skills.

Last week, the Ministry in partnership with Vodafone, Digicel, Telecommunications Fiji Limited (TFL) and Medical Services Pacific signed a Memorandum of Agreement to establish Fiji?s National Child Helpline.

DEPTFO