“Violence is not a solution to any problem but creates more problems.”
As nurse manager for the HIV clinic at Angau Provincial Hospital in Lae, Julie Kitoneka conducts HIV testing and counselling, treatment, and management of patients with HIV. One of her significant roles is preventing infants from being infected by HIV at birth, and with the support of her team, Julie has facilitated safe delivery of more than thirty babies in 2022.
Julie also encounters victims of gender-based violence (GBV), intimate partner violence (IPV) and child abuse on a daily basis, while dealing with disability and HIV cases. Hence, she applied for the Graduate Certificate in Counselling (GCC) through the Australia Awards Short Courses. Julie was one of twenty-five awardees—five men and twenty women—who studied the course in 2019 through Griffith University in Australia.
“When the scholarship was awarded to me, I was very excited knowing that the gaps identified in my practice as a nurse counsellor wouldin a way be addressed through undertaking the course. I knew that this was a blessing and opportunity, that one would appreciate like I did,” Julie says.
Julie was particularly grateful for the rare opportunity to study in Australia. “The GCC course has enhanced my counselling skills. It gave me a deeper knowledge to deliver good counselling services to my patients or clients. I learnt about the approaches that I am now using to help the patients or clients achieve their set goals. It also gives me the ability to identify patients or clients who are facing GBV and IPV and help them to access services that are available within the province. People with disability have access to all HIV services and are treated the same as everyone because we are here for them all.”
As a facilitator or trainer, she said that the skills learnt from the course have also helped her in facilitating capacity building trainings for the HIV program in Morobe province. Julie also had the opportunity to be one of the facilitators for the 2021 course, training twenty-five other Papua New Guineans under the short course awards program.
She encourages more men to take up counselling roles as they can create more impact in eliminating violence against women. “When men participate in counselling of GBV cases, they will be like role models to other men as well as advocates within their communities or organizations,” Julie says.
Julie also encourages victims of GBV or IPV to seek assistance as early as possible and not to take revenge through violence.