Solomons launches domestic violence counselling guidelines

2:27 pm on 9 March 2020

Solomon Islands has become the first country in the Pacific to launch guidelines for domestic violence counsellors.

Domestic and Family Violence. Little Girl in Fear of Domestic Abuse.

Photo: 123RF

The guidelines are a national framework that outlines systems and processes required for counsellors to be registered domestic violence counsellors.

The Solomon Islands has one of the highest rates of family and sexual violence in the world with 64 percent of women aged 15-49 have reported physical and/or sexual abuse by a partner.

Koisau Sade, who's the policy co-ordinator at the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs policy, said the guidelines had been developed to ensure survivors and victims of domestic violence could better access quality and effective counselling services.

"Under our family protection act that was passed in 2014 and began implementation in 2016, there's a section that requires the ministry to register and deregister domestic violence counsellors."

"It's a measure that has been made to ensure that counselling services are of high quality standard for domestic violence survivors and victims."

"By having that register for domestic violence counsellors, it means that there is a pool of counsellors that adhere by a standard code of ethics that they have to abide by."

Ms Sade said there were not many counsellors that focussed on domestic violence cases in the Solomons.

"When you go to the community and ask around, you have people from the churches or community leaders that offer counselling help."

"These people say they are counsellors, but they do not have the correct qualifications to prove they have gone through the right trainings to become a counsellor."

"The ministry's concern with this is this kind of help could be more damaging to a domestic violence victim or survivor such as advising a victim to seek forgiveness from their perpetrator without really dealing with the underlying issues."

The guidelines explain what a domestic violence counsellor is, how the governance of the domestic violence counselling register is structured, what are the requirements needed to be registered as a domestic violence counsellor and the process to become one.

Ms Sade said one of the requirements was undergoing training that involved gender-based violence dynamics and relating that to counselling.