Courtney Price, Ayesha Lutschini, Milcah Xkenjik and Tasman Bain in Port Moresby.
Courtney Price, Ayesha Lutschini, Milcah Xkenjik and Tasman Bain in Port Moresby.
16 May 2014

Support services for victims of domestic violence in Papua New Guinea have been vastly improved because of the work of a group of University of Queensland students.

Ayesha Lutschini, Tasman Bain and Courtney Price co-founded Meri Toksave, which means information for women.

It is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to address gender-based violence in PNG.

Now in its second year of operation, the first goal for the organisation is to overcome the inaccessibility and invisibility of emergency services and support referral systems for victims of domestic violence and their families.

To that end, a national Directory of Emergency Services for Those Affected by Family and Sexual Violence has been produced.

Mr Bain said the directory, a first of its kind, highlighted the gaps in services throughout PNG, especially in the areas of mental health, counselling, safe houses and paralegal support. 

“At the start of this year we distributed more than 5000 copies to service providers, community hubs and the broader public and it was so well received that it ran out quickly,” he said.

Meri Toksave has now published the directory online so women know the location and contact details of every safe house, rape crisis centre and welfare unit in PNG.

The organisation also empowers women and engages with men to overcome the attitudes and stigmas surrounding violence.

Having lived in PNG until she was 16 years old, Ms Lutschini knows how difficult it can be to change attitudes deeply rooted in culture and tradition.

“The statistics of gender-based violence in PNG are both confronting and shocking,” she said.

“Seventy per cent of women suffer some kind of violence, abuse or rape during their lives.

“That’s more than two in every three women in the country.

 “We want to give women the knowledge and power to change their lives.

Meri Toksave was established after Ms Lutschini and her colleagues were awarded a Social Venture Fellowship at the World Model United Nations Conference in 2013. 

The Fellowship allowed them to access mentoring and funding from New York-based company The Resolution Project to establish their project.

The trio’s hope for the future is that Meri Toksave will become a respected human rights organisation that has the support of youth around the world.

Ms Price said some large organisations in PNG were seeing progress through Meri Toksave’s work in remote communities.

“These organisations have been so supportive of us and we are working on establishing partnerships with them,” she said.

For more information on Meri Toksave visit the website or Facebook page.

Media: Courtney Price,, 0421 312 852 or Ayesha Lutschini, 0403 983 037,