PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea's first national telephone counselling hotline has had to broaden its service to cater for demand after receiving more than 15,000 calls over the past year.
The hotline was established by the non-government organisation ChildFund PNG as a service for survivors of gender-based violence, predominately women and children.
ChildFund's Wesh Siku said more than two-thirds of women in PNG experience domestic violence.
"When the project was actually designed, [it was] designed to assist survivors of gender-based violence and it just complemented those services that have already been established,” Mr Siku said.
“The primary focus was to support survivors of gender-based violence, mainly women and even children."
But he said the service had allowed men to get assistance that they otherwise would not seek.
Now more than half the callers are males who call as witnesses or perpetrators of violence.
"A lot of men do not feel comfortable talking to a woman in a face to face scenario,” Mr Siku said.
“So when this project was put up, it became comfortable for them to pick up a phone and call a counsellor for the issues they are going through.
"In Papua New Guinean culture, men will not front up [to] a woman and ask for their support."
Mr Siku said after the Highlands earthquake in February, the hotline was mobilised to provide trauma counselling and psychosocial support.
He said the hotline has eight staff on the phones but this may have to increase as the workload has doubled since last year.