Child labour in Papua New Guinea

The first comprehensive child labour research report for Papua New Guinea.

Press release | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | 19 April 2012

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, (ILO News): The International Labour Organization has published the first comprehensive child labour research report for Papua New Guinea.

The research report (conducted in Port Moresby) reveals that child labour exists, and children from different sectors of the community are engaged in the worst forms of child labour including commercial sexual exploitation, specifically child prostitution, illicit activities and hazardous work.

The report is based on interviews with 175 child sex workers, mainly girls and over 200 children working on the streets. 68% of the children were found to be involved in hazardous work, including chopping firewood for sales, moving furniture, loading and unloading boxes from containers, controlling traffic, scrap metal scavenging, working very long hours, and being subjected to physical and verbal abuse. Children were also engaged in illicit activities, and working in activities such as begging, stealing and selling drugs.

Hon. Martin Aini, PNG Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations said “My concern, and that of my government, is how to transform the profits of our current economic boom into improved social services and better livelihoods for our people, which were hard hit by recent economic and social difficulties. The issue of child labour does not demarcate much from this concern and judging by the incredible facts, statistics, figures and discoveries in this report, it is crucial for us to plan a way forward to address this situation through practical approaches, policies and interventions.”

The report details some factors that contribute to children being involved in child labour included poverty; the need to earn an income to survive and to provide for self and family; parents separated, parents neglecting their children, and family separation; being influenced by peers and attracted to the rewards they can get; child abuse and teenage pregnancy. The findings highlighted the links between child labour and education. Over 47% of the street children interviewed have never been to school, indicating that education in PNG is not accessible to every child.

Mr. George Vaso , Secretary for Labour and Industrial Relations said “ Whilst the department of Labour and Industrial Relations deal primarily with employment related issues in the world of work, the issues of children, that are slowly creeping into the boundaries of the workplace, puts the department in the spotlight to come of its traditional roles and responsibilities and confront the issue, and to minimize its spread and effect, in the health, safety, wellbeing and rights of the children.”

Mr Lamotte, ILO Director for Pacific Island Countries, said that “the report provides quantitative and qualitative information about a problem that we all agree is unacceptable in any modern society. The report provides information about a subject we do not like to talk about, but it is an invaluable source of information for policy makers and leaders, who have all agreed to tackle this challenge. The ILO as a UN agency is committed to work with our PNG partners to eliminate child labour”.

The ILO’s International Programme for Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), though the TACKLE project (Funded by the EC through the EU-ACP Group of States) and the PNG Department of Labour and Industrial have been instrumental in facilitating the research. The report is available to download on the ILO website: /ipecinfo/product/

For further information please contact:

Ms. Marie Fatiaki
National Project Officer - TACKLE
ILO Country Office for South Pacific Island Countries
Tel: +679 3313410