For over 20 years as a career police officer, Chief Inspector (CI) Delilah Sandeka has hoped for a time when family and sexual violence (FSV) offences would be dealt with effectively by law.
Today as she enters her Boroko Police Station office as the National Coordinator responsible for the efficient running of all Family and Sexual Violence Units (FSVUs) and programs in the country, she is satisfied that her dreams and prayers are being answered.
“It has always been my dream and passion to see Family and Sexual Violence Units available in all police stations to assist survivors. As a woman, I feel privileged to be able to help other women, who need our service and support,” CI Sandeka says.
CI Sandeka is the first woman to lead the FSV program both at the Boroko Police Station and at the national level.
In her role as FSV National Coordinator, she guides and coaches 109 officers who have specialised training to deal with family and sexual violence and she also oversees the effective running of over 26 FSVUs and FSV Desks throughout the country. This is an achievement CI Sandeka is proud of, considering that it has been 12 years since the first FSVU was opened at Boroko Police Station in 2008.
She shares that the creation of FSVUs brought about a new way of policing and at the beginning, a lot of officers did not fully understand their functions and importance within the RPNGC.
“When victims of FSV came to the police station to lodge their complaints in the past, there was no proper space for privacy, we were not trained and we did not know how to assist them,” she says.
“Dealing with high profile individuals can also be tough at times when they (perpetrators) try to interfere with the justice process.”
However CI Sandeka’s team of dedicated officers are working hard to execute their duties without being intimidated. They take every complaint that comes to their office seriously and are required to respond professionally.
These units are more important than ever as rates of violence are expected to increase during the current COVID-19 state of emergency period.
“We have an open mindset and approach to an individual person that comes in to lay a complaint,” she says.
Her work takes her away from her family for weeks when she travels out to provinces for supervisory visits or to conduct training, but her husband has been very supportive of her work from day one.
“With my challenging role, my husband has been understanding and supportive all along. He has also been influenced and learned about the type of work I was doing and that helped change some of his views and attitudes,” she says.
Over the years with support from the PNG-Australia Partnership she has seen massive changes in police work and the approach officers take to addressing family sexual violence offences. She’s grateful for the continued assistance to create a safe environment where women and vulnerable groups can have access to justice services and legal protection.
For advice on survivor services, call the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain on 7150 8000 between 7am–7pm.