Women and Children’s Crisis Centre in Tonga
East Geelong and Leopold Uniting Churches, together with the support of the Port Phillip West Presbytery, responded to a call for support from the Women and Children’s Crisis Centre, (letter below). A vehicle was purchased and the minister Rev Ikani Vaitohi and his family, John Birrell, Chair of the Church Council, and Annette Colegrave travelled to Tonga and presented this vehicle to the WCCC on the 28th of November 2014. (see photos below)
Letter from the Director:
Greetings from the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC). The WCCC was established in October 2009 pioneered by a group of women and some male advocate supporters who were determined to develop an NGO that is efficient and professional in delivering quality support services to victims and survivors of violence against women and girls throughout Tonga. The WCCC’s core mandate is to provide free counseling-advocacy and support services to victims. We also have a Mo’ui Ke Fiefia Safe House providing 24 hour temporary safe housing to women and children who are victims and survivors of violence.
We have 5 key areas of which we work:
One-Stop-Shop Crisis, Advocacy and Support for Women and Children
Community Education, Male Advocacy and Training of Other Agencies
Violence Prevention with Youth and Children
Information, Communication, Advocacy, Lobbying and Research
Management and WCCC Strengthening
A major part of our work requires transportation and for the last four years, the staff have being using their own personal vehicles to undertake work in the five key areas of which we work. This includes;
Transporting clients to and from the safe house and head office (the safe house is in Fanga and the head office is in the Tungi Colonnade Building in the city) this includes transporting clients to hospital, legal, court, police and counselling appointments;
Transporting client’s children to school and back to the safe house or child clients to school and back to the safe house;
After 5pm call-outs from the police to assist in transferring a client to the safe house. This is between the hours of 5pm and 8:30am;
Conducting community education, male advocacy and training of other agencies throughout Tongatapu;
Conducting violence prevention with youth and children;
Responding to invitations to speak at various events; and
Management and administration needs.
While we have been successful in gaining support from donors to provide funding for the work carried out, it has been difficult to request financial support for a vehicle. This is mainly due to with their own internal polices and guidelines. Not having a vehicle is often the missing-link between the WCCC and carrying out critical on-going support and community education programs. Here are a few re-occurring examples,
if there is a call-out at 3am from the central police, normal practice is for the Director (who lives in the central district) to drive her own vehicle and provide transport for the counselor-advocate to attend the case. In the instance where the Director is out of the country, it becomes quite a challenge for the Counselor-Advocate to access transportation and would often have to call a taxi to transport her and the client to the Safe House
transporting client’s children or child client’s to school (to and from the safe house) is a huge challenge because it depends on which staff have brought a vehicle to work and the availability of that vehicle to take and collect the children from school. It is to ideal to take them by taxi or public transport particularly if the client is at high-risk
clients who need to attend court hearings in the western and eastern districts depend on the counsellor advocate providing transportation and often this is also a challenge particularly where court hearings take most of the morning and it depends of ‘other’ staff’s vehicle availability to release their vehicles for the counsellor-advocate to use
conducting community awareness sessions and responding to invitations to speak at various events also depends on the availability of vehicles, and
the most critical is when clients and their children need medical attention at night, there is no vehicle at the safe house to transport them to the hospital or when there is a Tsunami warning – the clients are at risk of not having access to transportation to higher ground.
In addition to the above, asking staff to use their own vehicles is a big-ask on their own families because it means that the WCCC is using family vehicles which may impact or disrupt staff’s family daily schedules, e.g. school pick-ups and other family needs. The overarching concern from management is that the WCCC has no way of compensating personal staff vehicles that are damaged during its use for WCCC work.
Although the WCCC currently has no vehicle, it does however have in place policies to ensure that the use of a WCCC vehicle is in adherence to the vehicle policy. These polices guide the governance of a centre vehicle and adheres to accountable and transparent practices.
Maintenance and Petrol
Under our annual budgets for 2014-2016 is a line budget for maintenance, insurance and petrol costs which was created to take into account the possibility of the WCCC acquiring a vehicle through fundraising means. Therefore, maintenance and petrol costs are covered under the next three year budget proposed to Australian Aid.
I hope that the above facts gives you sufficient information. I you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to ask.
We sincerely thank you for the opportunity to explore this initiative and we thank Reverend ‘Ikani Vaitohi, Moana and their family for their dedicated efforts to help us in stopping violence against women, girls and children in Tonga. Through their efforts we have been able to start up the Uniting Scholarship Fund for children who stay at the safe house temporarily and who need financial assistance with access key services, particularly education, in Tonga.
We look forward to your next communication. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph# 22240.
www.wccctonga.org or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tongawccc