The report also revealed that 24 percent of adolescent girls in the countries surveyed had experienced physical violence and 10.5 percent had experienced sexual violence. In Papua New Guinea, rates of sexual violence against children are “exceptionally high”, the report said, with Médecins Sans Frontières reporting that children were the victims in more than 50 percent of sexual violence cases referred to their clinics in the regions of Port Moresby and Tari.
In 2017, Australia spent just $1.1m on programs specifically targeted at ending violence against children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, just 0.1 percent of its spending on overseas development assistance for the countries.
Tackling the problem required a “holistic approach”, Suthanthiraraj said, including education programs to teach children what behaviour is inappropriate and where to turn if they feel unsafe, and positive parenting programs to teach other methods of discipline, which she said “get really good responses in the community”.
Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena described the overwhelming figures in the Unseen and Unsafe report as 'heart-wrenching'.
"Anyone confronted by these figures would agree that this is just horrific. All children deserve to feel safe, to be healthy and loved, no matter where they live. For too long, confronting this silent epidemic of violence against children has been ignored in foreign policy. We cannot let these children down," Legena said. “It's time to put children at the heart of all of Australia's development programs, with policies and resources that prioritise child protection and child rights."