Counselling Support thru Papua New Guinea’s First Toll-free Domestic Violence Helpline [Interview][Transcript]


Guest: Nigel Spence
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Nigel Spence is the CEO of ChildFund Australia. Since joining ChildFund in 2006, Nigel has overseen the expansion of its child-focused development programs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, as well as continuing aid and development work through ChildFund Alliance partners in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Nigel has a long history of working with vulnerable and marginalised children, both in Australia and internationally. Prior to his role at ChildFund, he was CEO of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA), and Director of Children and Youth Services with Centacare, Catholic Community Services, Sydney.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, let us welcome ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence as he shares the various programs that they have in order to help reduce poverty for children in developing countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. Nigel has just returned from Papua New Guinea after launching a counselling helpline and spending some time with the counsellors who are staffing the phone lines where the endemic violent abuse of women and children is recognised as the most pressing human rights issues. Women are already being helped by the service, they have received 40 calls on the first day and the phones have been busy ever since.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today I’m joined by Nigel Spence, the CEO of ChildFund Australia. Nigel joins us from Sydney in Australia. Nigel welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Nigel Spence: Thank you very much.

W: Now Nigel can you give us some insight into what it is the ChildFund does?

N: Yes, ChildFund is an international development organization or an aid organization. So we undertake projects in developing countries throughout Asia, the Pacific and through the wider ChildFund group in Africa, or India, central of South America. Child-focused development program to improved condition for children, to reduce poverty and to advance their rights. So that’s typically education, healthcare, water sanitation, child protection and so on.

W: And for the benefit of those who are listening to us from maybe elsewhere in the world, just what is the geographic footprint you service?

N: Yes, so for ChildFund Australia and our main priorities are Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea and the wider Pacific nations so Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar – these are high priority countries. But we also have support programs in other parts of Asia, Indonesia, Timor, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and for us our priorities in East Africa so for in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

W: So it’s quite an extensive, I guess almost worldwide in terms of under developed countries.

N: Yes, the ChildFund group is a global organization and altogether all of the ChildFund organizations because Australia is one of 12 organizations which make up the ChildFund Alliance working altogether with about 55 countries in Asia, Africa and Pacific and the Americas.

W: I see. Now I have to confess that I’m not familiar with your history and achievements as an organization. Do you want to sketch does in for us?

N: Yes, look the ChildFund has actually been around a very long time. It is used to be as the CCF for many years. It started in fact way back in the late 1930’s in China responding to children who were orphaned and starving during the conflict in China in 1938-39 and has grown steadily and extensively since that time. So with, as I said now works throughout all the developing regions of the world and about 55 developing countries. And the work is very much about undertaking long term development projects which work in partnership with local communities. Usually the poor rural communities in most of the places where we work and the projects are involved in improving education, health services, access to water, improve nutrition, and improve diet, and food security. But also ChildFund is very involved in emergency relief. So when local or major emergency strikes like the Nepal earthquake or cyclones that we’ve seen in the Philippines, ChildFund is always there involved in emergency response. But look, I think it’s fair to say when we don’t have a high profile we generally haven’t put lot of effort into the publicity.

W: Yeah. Where does that, where do you get your money from? Where does the funding come from for ChildFund?

N The funding comes from private donations. We do have a “child sponsorship program” and many people are familiar with the world vision model of child sponsorship, it’s somewhat similar to that. And that provides funding for community projects which assist children in these communities. But also other donations from the Australian public, some Australian government funding through the department of foreign affairs and trade. But the ChildFund group, so other child fund organizations like in Korea, in New Zealand provide support as well for our a work in Asia and the Pacific.

W: Now I understand you’ve just been doing some work in Papua New Guinea, tell us about that.

N: I just returned from Papua New Guinea and ChildFund has been working in Papua New Guinea for more than 20 years and most of the time our work is focused on our core areas of education, health, food, and water. But in recent years, like many other organization has become really concerned about the levels of violence against women and children in Papua New Guinea. And so last week we were commencing a number of new projects, most notably a telephone counseling line mainly designed for women to call in. Women who are experiencing domestic violence to able to call in and receive information, counselling and support. But also it’s available to men and it’s available to other callers for other reasons. So for the first time, a free call national telephone counseling hotline.

W: That would be I would think a revolutionary support mechanism in Papua New Guinea.

N: It’s a first time there’s a support this type is available, right across the country.

W: Yup.

N: And we do have really well trained counselors and there’s been a lot of investment made in making sure that the counselors are well equipped, well skilled in the difficult work that they have. And so the counselors are taking calls from women and some men around the country. And although the service system is still very limited in most parts of Papua New Guinea, there are some local services and some local support either through government or through the church or to the other NGO’s, so as much as possible the counselors are seeking to the link the callers to local services and local resources.

W: Very, very admirable work I think. Now Nigel how can our listeners get in touch with you?

N: Look, we’d love for listeners to learn more about ChildFund and some may wish to support our work and the easiest way is to go to our website which is childfund, one word,

W: Now I’m forever getting in trouble for mentioning phone numbers and websites and not giving people enough notice to pick up their pencils. So fair warning everyone, pencils ready that website address is www.childfund All one word C H I L D F U N D dot org dot au ( and that’s your best way to get in touch with my guest today Nigel Spence, the CEO ChildFund Australia. Nigel thank you for your time today it’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

N: Thanks very much Wayne. Thanks for your interest.

W: If you’ve just joined us and you’ve just missed my chat with Nigel Spence, but the good news is we have a transcript on our website at You can also listen to an audio archive of our conversation both on SoundCloud and on YouTube and you can access that through our website as well. This is Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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