DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 29/04/15 4:30PM

1. FIJIAN PRESIDENT HOSTS FJN+ AGM – The President, His Excellency, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on Saturday 28 April hosted the annual general meeting for the Fiji Network Plus (FJN+) ? an organisation formed by people living with HIV in Fiji.


2. Education sector charts way for inclusive education
– The Fijian Government has partnered with the Australia Aid sponsored – Access to Quality Education Programme (AQEP) to provide a more inclusive and quality education for children with special needs.


3. FIJI EXTENDS MOU WITH PNG ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE –
Following the successful completion of the Papua New Guinea Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Reform Bill by Fiji?s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, an extension on the technical assistance provided by the Ministry was signed this week in Suva.

4. AUSTRALIAN INVESTORS URGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOVERNMENT?S INVESTMENT INCENTIVES – Australian investors were urged to take advantage of the huge untapped potential for Fijian businesses and join the many investors that have significantly benefitted from profitable ventures.

5. Special Schools Unit to be established at education ministry – As part of ensuring an inclusive education for all Fijians, Government will establish a unit within the Ministry of Education to specifically deal with the education of children with disabilities and special school institutions.


6. Staff undergo Energy saving Training
– In an effort to upgrade staff knowledge and understanding on energy saving techniques and measures, staff of the Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management participated in a training on energy saving this week.


1.FIJIAN PRESIDENT HOSTS FJN+ AGM

The President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, on Saturday 28 April hosted the annual general meeting for the Fiji Network Plus (FJN+) ? an organisation formed by people living with HIV in Fiji.

The meeting was held at the State Room at Government House and was attended by close to fifty participants including partners in observer capacity representing UNAIDS Pacific Office, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. It also included a representative of the FJN+ sister network called the Asia Pacific Network (APN+) of People Living with HIV, whose office is based in Bangkok.

One of the key outcomes of the meeting was an amendment to the FJN+ Constitution to include HIV negative people with specialist skills and expertise in the FJN+ Board. This resulted in the appointment of a new Board that includes two representatives of FJN+ and three professionals who would be selected in close consultation with Fiji?s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The President said the meeting was very successful especially now that the FJN+ has welcomed HIV negative people with specialist skills. He said this was a critical outcome because it will help ensure the viability of the organisation to better assist its members.

The President was also pleased that he was able to meet more people living with HIV. As Fiji?s Special Representative on HIV and AIDS, the President told FJN+ members that the Fijian Government remains steadfast in its quest to assist all people living with HIV especially in accessing necessary treatment, receiving care and support, and removing social stigma and discrimination.

?We are all in this together, this is our community,? he said. ?Government wants to help you so that you could live a meaningful life,? the President said.

The President said the FJN+ is an important organisation in Fiji?s response to AIDS. Fiji?s advocacy programme includes encouraging people affected by HIV to receive treatment which is provided by Government at no cost. Government, together with its development partners including the UN agencies, religious and civil society organizations, are also working towards reducing the number of HIV cases and in creating greater public awareness both as a preventative measure and also to eliminate all forms of discrimination.


2 Education sector charts way for inclusive education

The Fijian Government has partnered with the Australia Aid sponsored – Access to Quality Education Programme (AQEP) to provide a more inclusive and quality education for children with special needs.

The partnership will see a strategic implementation plan for the policy on special and inclusive education designed to lift education standards to all Fijians including those that are disabled.

The Minister for Education Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy while speaking at a workshop today in Nadi attended by various stakeholders to chart an eight ? year plan towards achieving this, said the workshop was critical in developing a strategy to improve the ability of Fiji?s system to provide access to quality education for children, youth and adults with disabilities.

?The Fijian Government is absolutely committed to the core principle of ?No one left behind? so we need to consider and plan for how that principle is enacted,? he said.

?There are far higher numbers of children, youth and adults with disabilities in most populations globally than was previously estimated; a fact which is being proven with more sophisticated and internationally comparable methods for measuring disability prevalence and this only highlights the importance of establishing a robust system for ensuring access to education ? which is a right that we all hold deeply.?

He added that despite a solid structure and history of special schools across Fiji, the national disability survey in 2010 indicated that only 21 per cent of people with disability had completed primary school.

This, he said, was consistent with evidence globally – where access to local schools is not available for children and youth with disabilities, many of these children remain at home.

?Fiji is proud to be one of the Pacific?s leading countries in the move to embrace and expand inclusive education, as upheld in global and regional charters such as the: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly outlined in Article 24; the Incheon Strategy to Make the Right Real for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific; and the Pacific Education Development Framework,? Hon. Dr Reddy said.

AQEP team leader Dr Priscilla Puamau said under the partnership a number of projects and initiatives have been implemented such as the piloting of the project at five mainstream schools conducting of training for 345 primary school head teachers and 34 secondary school principals.

?Special schools have been supported through the Allied Health Team of Australian volunteers, to strengthen classroom strategies for children with disabilities, and to strengthen their use of Individual Education Plans; and there has been an increasing number of regular schools are enrolling children with disabilities,? she said.

3 FIJI EXTENDS MOU WITH PNG ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

Following the successful completion of the Papua New Guinea Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Reform Bill by Fiji?s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, an extension on the technical assistance provided by the Ministry was signed this week in Suva.

This is the 4th extension of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2011, between the two countries through the South-South Cooperation.

Under this extension, the Ministry commits to provide technical assistance in three phases between May 2015 to May 2016. Phase 1 involves the facilitation in the passage of the OSH Bill within the PNG Government, while Phase 2 involves the organisational set-up of the OSH programme through technical assistance from the Ministry of Employment with the cooperation of the PNG Government. Phase 3 involves capacity building of the PNG OSH Inspectorate on the new OSH management system including the implementation process of the new OSH Bill.

The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon Jioji K Konrote while delivering his address at the signing ceremony highlighted that this latest development will ensure PNG?s policy, laws, values, institutions and practices on OSH are modernised to adequately provide the people and workplaces of PNG the much needed social protection and better OSH standards, underpinned by a stronger OSH Inspectorate.

Hon Konrote said the signing signifies the strong spirit of regional cooperation and aspirations between the two Governments and their people.

He reiterated the Fijian Government?s resolute commitment towards providing necessary technical expertise to achieve the desired outcomes as committed in the MOU.

(Photos attached ? for more photos, visit the Fijian Government?s Facebook page)


4 AUSTRALIAN INVESTORS URGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOVERNMENT?S INVESTMENT INCENTIVES

Australian investors were urged to take advantage of the huge untapped potential for Fijian businesses and join the many investors that have significantly benefitted from profitable ventures.

Speaking at the opening of the 2015 Exploratory Investment Mission this week , the Assistant Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism said that the mission seminar is an opportunity to share expectations from business communities in order to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations between Fiji and Australia.

?Ladies and gentlemen, it was noted in the Fijian Trade Policy that there is huge untapped potential for Fijian businesses in the Australian market, which we have not taken advantage of yet. It is very important that the business communities in both our countries take serious steps to identifying the barriers and finding solutions,? Mrs Eden.

?We urge you all to seize this opportunity and join the many investors that have significantly benefitted from profitable ventures and have also contributed to the Fijian economy.?

The Minister added that the Fijian economy is currently experiencing an unprecedented growth rate.

?We have even better news as the Reserve Bank of Fiji has recently revised the growth forecast for 2015 from the initial 4.0 per cent to 4.3 per cent while the estimated growth for 2014 has also positively increased to 4.5 per cent from the anticipated 4.2 per cent,? Mrs Eden said.

?I must say this is better than the global economic growth for 2015, which is forecasted to be around 3.5 per cent.?

Australian investor and director of Heart of Fiji, John De Giusti who is part of a 10 member delegation manages a disability travel service and commended Fiji?s positive climate for investment opportunities.

?Fijians have a natural care and joy for people. I have brought a few groups last year and I have realised that Fiji is a perfect destination for people with intellectual disabilities who want to feel what real care is all about,? Mr De Giusti said.

?I have started on this tour and it is going well; I have Fijian caregivers based in Australia and I am here hoping to employ local staff.

?Mr De Giusti also said that funds from his tours go towards assisting disability organisations and special schools.?

The 2-day investment mission ends today.


5 Special Schools Unit to be established at education ministry

As part of ensuring an inclusive education for all Fijians, Government will establish a unit within the Ministry of Education to specifically deal with the education of children with disabilities and special school institutions.

Minister for Education Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy says the unit which will be established next year, will ensure that assistance and other issues relating to special schools are given recognition.

?Currently we have only one officer in the Ministry under the primary education division but next year we want to ensure that we have a unit that specifically deals with fast ? tracking issues and requests made by special children and institutions,? he said.

?This would further boost the work and practices of our special children and institutions and we are working very closely with the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP).?

The 2013 Constitution includes significant provisions for persons with disabilities including the right to reasonable access to all places, public transport and information; sign language, Braille and other means of communication; reasonable access to necessary material, substances and devices relating to the person?s disability; reasonable adaptation of buildings, practices and procedures to enable them full participation in society and the effective realisation of their rights.

The Minister reiterated that his Ministry remained committed towards meeting the objectives as stipulated in the Constitution.

?The Constitution enshrines the right of every person to early childhood, primary, secondary and further education and in addition, the right to access quality education in local schools is supported by various Acts and captured in the Ministry of Education?s Policy on Effective Implementation of Special and Inclusive Education, endorsed in 2011,? Hon. Dr Reddy said.

?No fuss is necessary in places where people are operating on unspoken principles of inclusion and where barriers that arise are overcome creatively and communally.?

FNCDP executive director Dr Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa welcomed the announcement by the Minister saying it reflected the Fijian Government?s commitment towards giving students with special needs equal access to quality education.

6 Staff undergo Energy saving Training

In an effort to upgrade staff knowledge and understanding on energy saving techniques and measures, staff of the Ministry of Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management participated in a training on energy saving this week.

The Ministry?s acting permanent secretary, Mr Setareki Tale said the awareness is to allow employees of the Ministry understand the importance of saving energy.

?We want all staff to be aware and embrace the implementation of energy saving which will in turn reduce our electricity bills.

?I am confident that the Ministry has the potential to ensure that all measures are in place to save energy,? Mr Tale said.

The issues that were highlighted in the awareness include the development of Energy Management Plan, implementation and its monitoring; reduction of electricity consumption in the workplace and at home.

The training was facilitated by the Department of Energy and is part of the Public Sector Energy Saver Competition.

PRESS RELEASE