Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Sister Wakon’s passion to help survivors of family and sexual violence

In Papua New Guinea, women and children experience some of the highest rates of violence in the world. Nationally, about 1.5 million people per year experience gender-based violence, with most perpetrators (81%) being husbands or partners, according to the PNG special parliamentary committee on GBV. More than half of the country’s women aged 15-49 have experienced violence, and a third have experienced sexual violence, according to the PNG Demographic and Health Survey (2016-2018). Notably, only about a third of survivors seek support, according to the PNG Demographic and Health Survey (2016-2018).

As a survivor of family violence herself, ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital’s Family Support Centre (FSC) Nurse Manager, Sister Anastacia Wakon is passionate about supporting survivors of violence.

Prior to the Family Support Centre, Sister Wakon worked with the hospital’s Emergency Department and directly treated survivors of family and sexual violence. She witnessed how the high influx at the Emergency Department meant they were unable to medically treat all patients for physical injuries and many were sent away.

Initially Sister Wakon worked solo in the FSC, but over the years the workforce has grown, and she now leads a team of 13 women providing a comprehensive approach to addressing family and sexual violence. The team consists of eight nurses, two social workers, one community health worker, one data entry officer and a hygiene officer. The FSC staff provide physical and mental health support to survivors and assist with police investigations when required.

Sister Wakon is grateful to have an improved Family Support Centre that enables her team to support twice the number of women.