Australia, UNICEF support expansion of child protection units in Davao del Norte
DAVAO DEL NORTE, 12 July 2023 – The Australian Government and UNICEF Philippines are expanding access to facilities for women and child survivors of violence and abuse, with the launch of new tele-Women and Child Protection Units (TeleWCPUs) in Kapalong and Nabunturan, Davao del Norte.
The TeleWCPUs allow women and children to call or send a text message to report violence and abuse and ask questions about protection services, especially those who have no direct access to the regional hospital’s Women and Child Protection Unit. Moreover, they ensure the continuity of services such as counseling and treatments through video-calls with social workers, mental health professionals, and doctors.
TeleWCPUs are part of Women and Child Protection Units, where social workers, paediatric doctors and experts in child psychology examine children and women who survived all forms of abuse and violence, and assess them for further medical examination, treatments, rehabilitation, and counselling.
“After the drastic disruption of services that the COVID-19 pandemic brought on, we must now ensure that vital services such as child protection and safety continue in all communities. We need to continue the work in protecting women and children against all forms of abuse, and by bringing the tele-WCPUs closer to their communities we are ensuring to reach the under-served and marginalized,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.
With support from the Australian Government, UNICEF and the Child Protection Network, Davao Regional Medical Center, local Governments of Kapalong and Nabunturan, and Stairway Foundation are supporting the regional and local health units to promote availability of the TeleWCPU in certain areas, provide on-site training and support to the TeleWCPU focal persons, and develop a child protection policy for the TeleWCPUs.
“Australia recognises that addressing violence against women and children continues to be an international challenge. By digitalising protection services, we can increase access to support and protection for affected individuals – this is what we did through Project BRAVE (Building COVID-safe Responses and Voices for Equity) as well,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu PSM.
“We are proud to partner with UNICEF Philippines in this project to strengthen local community response and increase access to medical, psychological, and legal services to women and children survivors of violence,” added Ambassador Yu.
The National Baseline Study on Violence against Children by the Council for the Welfare of Children and UNICEF (2015) showed that 8 out of 10 children experience various forms of violence. Meanwhile, 2 in 10 children aged 12-17 have been subjected to online sexual exploitation (OSAEC), representing around 2 million children nationwide; and between 23 to 38% of victims of OSAEC do not report it to anyone.
Last year, the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported a continued rise in cyber tip reports for the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic: from 1.29mn cyber tips in 2020, increasing exponentially to 3.01mn in 2021.
To date, through support from UNICEF Innovation, 93 barangay TeleWCPUs have been set up in NCR, Cavite, Baguio City, and Cebu Province. Through the support of the Australian Government, two TeleWCPUs were also set up in the Province of La Union. #
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.