Our partner in Vanuatu is the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOMV).

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has a population of approximately 300,000 people spread across about 65 of the nation’s 80 islands.

Vanuatu is ranked 140 out of 189 nations on the Human Development Index , and is the world’s most at-risk country in terms of vulnerability to natural disasters and ability to recover .

Family violence is an endemic issue across Vanuatu. Violence within the home remains a national challenge.

While the drivers of violence in Vanuatu are complex, a 2018 gender analysis undertaken by our partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia, and AOA, captured the voices of approximately 200 men, women and youth including church leaders and chiefs. The data gathered showed the clear link between violent practices and underlying harmful societal, spiritual and cultural beliefs.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia is leading the Positive Parenting Program.

The Positive Parenting Program has two main goals. They are:

  1. Community leaders become advocates for healthy family relationships; and
  2. Parents are empowered to respond to the process of growth and development of their children.

To achieve these goals, the program will maintain support networks in communities which have already been established, and establish additional networks in new communities.

The facilitators of the program ensure that networks within communities promote healthy relationships. This makes for greater wellbeing and creating safer and more cohesive communities as more equity exists within them.

In a country that is officially 83 percent Christian, church and other community leaders are now acknowledging and speaking up about abuse and violence that in the past was kept silent.

This project is implemented by the Anglican Church of Melanesia -Vanuatu (ACOMV) and their Mothers Union (MU) ministry. Mothers Union women are leaders in their communities.

MU women advocate for vulnerable people and healthy family relationships in communities.

Another way that change is happening in the communities is that leaders are trained first; they then share their learnings with their social networks. The social networks meet weekly, sharing their experiences with one another, on an ongoing basis.

Support of Disaster Risk Management Coordinator

In collaboration with a number of other Anglican agencies, we are supporting the Disaster Risk Management Coordinator for ACOMV.

The ACOMV Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Coordinator is responsible for the overall management of ACOMV’s disaster risks management initiatives in Vanuatu. These include Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), emergency response, and recovery.

The DRM Coordinator is responsible for preparing for, responding to, and coordinating recovery from all hazards which may affect the country. Two of the potentially most damaging of these are tropical cyclones and El Nino-related drought.

Effective DRR is more than just preparing for potential disasters; it comprises a range of initiatives closely aligned to the 2015-30 Sustainable Development Goals, issues such as good governance, economic and social development with a strong emphasis on poverty reduction; food and water security; environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation.

Ambae volcano response

We are also working with ACOM to respond to a humanitarian emergency caused by volcanic activity which forced the evacuation of the entire population of 10,000 people of Ambae Island and has supported the repatriation and resilience building of the communities from late 2017. Volcanic activity continued into 2018 and ACOM is partnering with other local churches and the government to support relocation of communities as well as long-term reliance on building and community planning to adapt to the environment on Ambae and nearby islands.

Through the Church Agencies Network Disaster Operations (CAN DO) partnership, Anglican Overseas Aid and ACOM are working with the Adventist Development Relief Agency as well as with other local churches to utilise grassroots church structures to improve information sharing with the government on how to live with an active volcano and on the protection of women and children in crisis.

Funding: The Positive Parenting Program is funded by small grants and donations from the Australian public. The Disaster Risk Management Coordinator and the Ambae volcano response are funded solely by donations from the Australian public.