NEWS

Legal Action An Option To Teach Parents About Roles: Vuniwaqa

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa believes parents must shoulder the responsibility of looking after their children, not the grandparents. “I don’t agree that is it okay
04 Mar 2017 11:00
Legal Action An Option To Teach Parents About Roles: Vuniwaqa
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa during the children’s symposium at Labasa Civic Centre. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa believes parents must shoulder the responsibility of looking after their children, not the grandparents.

“I don’t agree that is it okay for parents to leave their children with grandparents,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

Parents need to be taught that they are responsible for the upbringing of a child and it is not the responsibility of their elderly parents.

“Parents need to teach their children to take responsibility for their action. If need be, then take them to court so that they can step-up to their responsibility.”

She made the comment during the children’s symposium at Labasa Civic Centre, following concerns raised by the Foundation for Education of Needy Children (FENC) Fiji Northern administrator, Sione Natau.

“I have seen grandparents struggling to look after their grandchildren. What can the ministry do about this?” Mr Natau asked.

Mrs Vuniwaqa explained there was a difference.

She said there were parents who fully supported their children that live with their grandparents, while there were others who tend to forget their responsibility.

“Parents will always be parents, and of course grandparents take their children in but they don’t know the means of how to look after them.

“So they end up coming back to the state,” she said.

At the ministry, Mrs Vuniwaqa said they have care protection allowances that focus on children.

She said the ministry do not encourage parents to leave their children with grandparents.

“We have always asked parents and grandparents whether they have applied for child maintenance. If they say no, then we advise them to do so. We are looking at that,” she said.

“Our policy is this that when grandparents come to us, we carry out an assessment. If they are eligible, we will give the allowance to the child for certain times to allow the grandparents to apply for child maintenance.”

Penina Maisali, a former teacher originally from Druadrua Island told Mrs Vuniwaqa that there was a parent who was not using the child care protection allowance on the child.

Speaking in the iTaukei language, Mrs Maisali said the mother was spending money on herself.

“In such cases where a child is neglected, what can your ministry do about it?” she asked Mrs Vuniwaqa.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said her ministry had received complaints of similar nature.

“Please if you see mothers not using the allowance on their child, please report at the nearest Social Welfare Office and we will carry out a review,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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