By BOSORINA ROBBY
PARENTS and guardians need to take heed of new laws that specifically address child protection and rights.
The Lukautim Pikinini Act (LPA) will, in six months, replace the current Child Welfare Act.
Community and Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu said under the LPA, the National Child Welfare Council will be called the National Lukautim Pikinini Council.
The new act calls for the establishment of the provincial Lukautim Pikinini Councils and Local Lukautim Pikinini Committees throughout PNG.
Under the LPA, a child is defined as a person from birth to 18 years of age.
The act looks at the different types of abuse children face in their daily lives, and will provide assistance to all the vulnerable children.
Dame Carol said the LPA specifies the nine underlying rights of a child which are: guiding principles, best interests of a child, rights of a child, right of child to live with parents, duty to maintain child, parental responsibility, harmful customary practices, harmful employment and child with disabilities.
Secretary Joseph Klapat said since the PNG/ Melanesian customs of community ownership was a very strong value, children in PNG should not be suffering.
“It is time this value is made useful again so that there will be fewer vulnerable children in the country,” he said.
The LPA worked for 20 years with the human rights and the child welfare divisions to devise the act which will be launched by the Governor-General on March 12.
Dame Carol said the early development of a child shaped them for the rest of their lives, which was the reason for the development of the Early Childhood Care Centers which should register and have licenses to operate as care centers for children.
The LPA discussed gender neutrality of paying maintenance.
“In the past, it was the men who paid for child maintenance when he deserts his wife and children.
“This new law says women who desert their families will be held responsible to pay maintenance too,” she said.
Mr Klapat said much work was needed to be done to fully train people for the implementation of LPA.