1. FIJI AND ARGENTINA FOREIGN MINISTER HOLD BILATERAL TALKS – The Foreign Ministers for Fiji and Argentina held bilateral talks this morning to look at ways of boosting relations between the two countries.
2. LABOUR MINISTER URGES LEVUKA COMMUNITY TO PARTICIPATE AT ROADSHOW – The Minister for Labour, Jone Usamate has urged community members in Levuka to take advantage of the Ministry of Labour roadshow.
3. FIJI ATTENDS “WORLD CORRECTION HEADS” MEET IN INDIA – Meeting the challenges posed by high-risk offenders is an issue being discussed at the 33rd Asia Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA) in India.
4. VOLIVOLI, DECLARED FIRST VIOLENCE FREE VILLAGE IN NADROGA/NAVOSA – A village once known for the high incidence of violence has reached a milestone yesterday. Volivoli village is the first community in the Nadroga/Nadroga province that has been declared as violence-free.
5. LABOUR MINISTRY HOLDS STAKEHOLDERS CONSULTATION ON THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE BASELINE SURVEY – The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment has organised the first Stakeholders Consultation workshop on the findings of the National Minimum Wage Baseline Survey on Friday 27th September, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Suva.
6. ZERO TOLERANCE ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT – The Ministry of Education has issued a stern warning to teachers that corporal punishment will not be tolerated by the Ministry for Education.
7. ITAUKEI AFFAIRS PARTICIPATES IN THE 2013 PUBLIC SECTOR ENERGY COMPETITION – The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is among 14 public agencies vying for a prize in the 2013 Public Sector Energy Competition.
8. VILLAGES IN NADROGA/NAVOSA RECEIVE COPIES OF CONSTITUTION – The two villages in Nadroga/Navosa province were glad to receive the pocket sized copies of Fiji’s new Constitution, yesterday.
1 FIJI AND ARGENTINA FOREIGN MINISTER HOLD BILATERAL TALKS
The Foreign Ministers for Fiji and Argentina held bilateral talks this morning to look at ways of boosting relations between the two countries.
Fiji’s Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met his Argentine counterpart Minister Hector Timmerman in New York and discussed opportunities for bilateral and triangular cooperation, in particular how Argentina may be able to facilitate bilateral and triangular cooperation projects through the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).
Minister Timerman suggested organising a meeting with the PIDF to discuss opportunities for such cooperation in Argentina, including a project being worked on by Argentina for desalination projects.
Minister Kubuabola welcomed the holding of such a meeting, and thanked Argentina for having sent an Ambassador to observe at the inaugural meeting of the PIDF.
Minister Kubuabola took the opportunity to brief Minister Timerman on developments in Fiji’s roadmap to democracy, including an update on Fiji’s new constitution and the way forward for elections to be held by September 2014.
The two Ministers also discussed G77 matters. Argentina having held the Chairmanship of the Group in 2011, the two Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the work of the Group.
2 LABOUR MINISTER URGES LEVUKA COMMUNITY TO PARTICIPATE AT ROADSHOW
The Minister for Labour, Jone Usamate has urged community members in Levuka to take advantage of the Ministry of Labour roadshow.
Minister Usamate was speaking to the villagers of Levuka Vaka-Viti last night and highlighted the need for the public to be more aware of labour and employment related issues.
“This is an opportune time for employers, workers and all stakeholders to meet and discuss labour concerns with officials from the ministry,” Mr Usamate said.
“We want workers and employers alike to familiarise themselves with labour laws and regulations.”
Mr Usamate added that the objective of Government’s labour reforms was spearheaded through the Labour Ministry.
He also pointed out the ministry’s aim which is to create decent and productive workplaces.
Meanwhile the Labour Minister also distributed copies of the constitution to Levuka Vaka-Viti villagers.
The first public consultation for the island of Ovalau will be held tomorrow afternoon at the Levuka town council.
3 FIJI ATTENDS “WORLD CORRECTION HEADS” MEET IN INDIA
Meeting the challenges posed by high-risk offenders is an issue being discussed at the 33rd Asia Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA) in India.
The Fiji Corrections Service, as a member of the APCCA, is represented by a 3-member delegation led by the Commissioner of Corrections Lt. Col Ifereimi Vasu.
Recent APCCA conferences have highlighted the fact that the profile of prisoners has been changing, according to the conference discussion guide.
“Generally, it appears that prisons across most of the region now house a more complex mix of prisoners and that a larger number of them may be termed ‘high risk’ for one reason or another.
Although the main focus is likely to be on prison-based management, delegates will also learn about measures and initiatives to better manage high risk offenders on release back to the community.
Participants will also discuss challenges and initiatives in corrections; organisational culture: promoting shared positive value and integrity and alternatives to imprisonment.
Other topics include measuring and reducing recidivism rates: assessing what works, setting targets and implementing evidence-based programmes.
Fiji will host the APCCA in 2017.
4 VOLIVOLI, DECLARED FIRST VIOLENCE FREE VILLAGE IN NADROGA/NAVOSA
A village once known for the high incidence of violence has reached a milestone yesterday. Volivoli village is the first community in the Nadroga/Nadroga province that has been declared as violence-free.
This achievement has been possible through the community’s partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and the Fiji Police Force. In February this year, the community had joined a campaign called the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community, and after 6 months of continued awareness and trainings, yesterday the village was officially recognized for its effort to eliminate violence.
The official declaration was done by Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni. She unveiled a billboard erected in front of the village to signify the long term commitment of the Volivoli’ s to eliminate violence against women and children.
In her official address, Minister Luveni congratulated the leaders of Volivoli village for their achievement which, she said has been possible through their commitment and ownership of the campaign.
“When a community is free from violence, it becomes even more resourceful. I congratulate the leaders and elders of this village for their continued support towards violence free campaign and it is reflection of their commitment as leaders to build a peaceful and promising future for their people. It also means, upbringing of children in a environment that has great value for women and children to be treated with respect in their homes and communities. It means developing a community that lives on the principle of violence free as the means to foster sustainable development,” Dr Luveni reiterated.
For the Volivoli women’s group, this day will not be easily forgotten since it signifies their freedom to break free from violence, which they have endured through the years. In her presentation to Dr Luveni, president of Volivoli women’s group Mrs Kinisimere Tubou said that following the 6 months awareness the changes has taken place in this community.
“As a result of this campaign, village leaders, women and youths have formed a gatekeepers committee that plays a proactive role to ensure that women and children are treated with care and respect. The committee has a guideline that ensures that if there is any case of violence, it has to be reported to the nearest police station.
“The awareness on violence free is also a prime discussion in church and village meetings. It is through this campaign, the women have realized that there are laws like Domestic Violence Decree and Child Welfare Decree in place that protects women and children from violence and they no longer have to live in fear or silence.
“Our conversations from the women reveal that there is change in the attitude of the men, they have started to spend more time with their families unlike before they spend time drinking yaqona,” Mrs Tubou explained.
While speaking on behalf of the Volivoli men, Mr Mesulame Gavidi said the campaign has united the Volivoli villagers to work together with the Police and take responsibilities in maintaining peace in their homes.
“Now we have a good networking with the nearby police station and they are frequently visiting us to have discussions on the laws like Crimes Decree and the need to ensure that we take responsibility in safeguarding our women and children. It is an honor and great achievement for Volivoli to be the first village in Nadroga/Navosa to take the title of a violence free community.
“We thank the government and particularly the Minister Dr Luveni for her continued support in helping us in this endeavor,” Mr Gavidi said.
The Assistant Superintendent Sigatoka Police, Mr Henry Steele said that Volivoli will also be used as a role model for a crime free village in Nadroga/Navosa.
“We have gauged that through continued awareness and interaction with the police, this community has recorded no criminal activities in the last 6 months. It is encouraging that this campaign serves a common goal of creating violence free communities and it also challenges other communities to rise up for similar achievement. Through this campaign the police is able to strengthen its trust with the people, enabling the communities to come out and report the cases of domestic violence and crime,” Mr Steele said.
The 10 major phases for the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign are: Initial planning process, identification of stakeholders, stakeholders meeting, establishment of gatekeepers committee, community consultation, official commitment, stakeholders training on gender based violence, community training on gender based violence, economic and social empowerment program and finally the declaration of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community.
5 LABOUR MINISTRY HOLDS STAKEHOLDERS CONSULTATION ON THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE BASELINE SURVEY
The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment has organised the first Stakeholders Consultation workshop on the findings of the National Minimum Wage Baseline Survey on Friday 27th September, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Suva.
The Minister for Labour Mr Jone Usamate confirmed that the consultation will be conducted by the Ministry of Labour and National Minimum Wage Consultant Dr Mahendra Reddy where Dr Reddy will be presenting the findings of the Survey and a review mechanism to the stakeholders for their remarks and contributions.
He added that the Consultation will comprise of representatives from Workers, Employers, Civil Societies, Government and Private Sector organisations.
“The prime objective of the consultation is to seek the contributions and comments from all stakeholders on the findings of the survey as well as the review mechanism before submitting the final report on the Minimum Wage Survey Proposal to the Labour Minister for his consideration and submission to Cabinet for endorsement,” Mr Usamate said.
Mr Usamate added that this is a milestone achievement in the history of Fiji as it is the first ever determination of a national minimum wage, the hourly rate below which all sectoral minimum wage rates must not be allowed to fall.
“This consultation will allow key stakeholders an opportunity to provide their comments and add-value towards this historic event of determining Fiji’s first ever national minimum wage,” Mr Usamate said.
He added that a framework will also be developed to periodically review the national minimum wage based on the agreed social and economic factors provided for in the ILO Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, No. 131 and its Minimum Wage Fixing Recommendation 135. The first national minimum wage set will be used as the benchmark or reference point from which future possible adjustments will be made.
The Minister highlighted that this is in line with Government’s commitment under the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress (PCCPP) towards reducing poverty to a negligible level by 2015 and at the same time enhancing productivity. It also fulfils government’s commitment to give all workers the right to a just minimum wage as required under Section 33 of the new 2013 Constitution.
Similar consultations will be conducted in Lautoka Hotel for the Western Division on 3rd of October and in Takia Hotel in Labasa for the Northern Division on the 4th of October, to seek extensive deliberations on the survey findings before its endorsement.
The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment extended his invitation to the key stakeholders in the Western Division and Northern Division to attend and participate at their respective Divisional consultations.
6 ZERO TOLERANCE ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
The Ministry of Education has issued a stern warning to teachers that corporal punishment will not be tolerated by the Ministry for Education.
This is in response to three reported cases now under investigation by the Fiji Police Force.
“The Ministry of Education will not condone such behaviour by teachers. The issue is now with the police and the findings we gather from them will determine the action that we will take against the abuse perpetrators,” said the Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal.
“The Ministry of Education has a child protection policy which ensures that the well-being, safety, respect and dignity of children are respected. This policy should be read by teachers and clearly articulates the action taken against child abuse perpetrators. Schools should also have their own child protection policy aligned to the ministry policy. If teachers continue to inflict corporal punishment it means that they are not reading this policy and do not bother to know and understand the latest policies in place,” commented Dr Lal.
“The Ministry of Education has a commitment to protect the rights of children in the school and ensure that a conducive environment for learning is created. Such actions will create fear in the lives of children and affect their concentration in school”.
“I will not condone such acts and teachers accused will be suspended pending further investigation. The police findings will determine the cause of action instituted against the teacher involved. Teachers around the country are advised to refrain from inflicting corporal punishment on children. It is an illegal act and anyone involved should be prepared to face the consequences of their action,” he said
7 ITAUKEI AFFAIRS PARTICIPATES IN THE 2013 PUBLIC SECTOR ENERGY COMPETITION
The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is among 14 public agencies vying for a prize in the 2013 Public Sector Energy Competition.
This year, the Ministry decided to join the Energy Saver Competition for the purpose of reducing its energy consumption at the office explained the Ministry’s permanent secretary Savenaca Kaunisela.
“In addition, we want to be part of a global vision that advocates a healthy environment,” he said.
Since 2011, the Ministry has been diverting funds from other budgetary allocation to meet the increase in electricity consumption in the North Wing building of the GCC complex which houses the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and the iTaukei Affairs Board.
Environmental concerns and the need to be nationally competitive were the driving force for the Ministry to change its perception on electricity and its associated costs.
Within weeks, the Team, guided by their internal audit of energy consumption that was jointly carried out with the Department of Energy, presented a 10-pointer Energy Management Action Plan.
In show of support, the Permanent Secretary has put in place a number of initiatives to which includes switching-off power during lunch hour & end of the day; switching off all computers, lights and unnecessary electrical devices/ equipment from the power point during lunch hour and before departure from the office at the end of the day; strictly keeping a minimum temperature of 25˚C for all air conditioning units and using natural sunlight as much as possible during working hours..
“Rather than being an inevitable cost of doing business, we needed to consider electricity as a manageable input to the process, much like any raw material, explained the Chairperson of the Ministry’s Energy Management Team, Tomasi Volau. Hence, the establishment of his nine-member Energy Management Team with the mission to measure and track energy performances within all divisions and levels within the building. They were also tasked with communicating the Team’s strategies and plans to all staff within their division within the building”.
As the competition organizer, the Department of Energy is visiting all the competing agencies to evaluate their performance. Part of their evaluation included a review of the Ministry’s performance until August 2013 as per its Energy Management Action Plan, a tour of the facilities and randomly asking staff on their understanding of the energy saving measures and other issues pertaining to the competition.
4 awards consisting of cash prizes, plaques and Certificates will be up for grabs for the competition. These prizes will be awarded during the Public Service Commission Service Excellence Awards night later this year.
While stand-alone energy management projects are satisfying to complete, the energy management plan provides the “big picture” view as an ongoing framework for optimizing overall energy use and achieving success for the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Mr. Kaunisela said.
The Ministry is also vying for the Prize category in the PSC Service Excellence Awards.
8 VILLAGES IN NADROGA/NAVOSA RECEIVE COPIES OF CONSTITUTION
The two villages in Nadroga/Navosa province were glad to receive the pocket sized copies of Fiji’s new Constitution, yesterday.
More than 200 people in Volivoli and Vatukarasa villagers were given the copies of the new Constitution by the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni.
Dr Luveni said this is part of the government’s initiative to ensure that people are well informed about the new Constitution.
“Copies of the Constitution in English, Hindi and iTaukei languages are distributed to ensure that all the Fijians are well informed about their rights and responsibilities under the 2013 Constitution,” Dr Luveni reiterated.
Mr Mesulame Gavidi, leader for Volivoli village applauded government’s effort in providing the new Constitution into 3 different languages.
“We are grateful to the Bainimarama government for providing us with the copies of the new Constitution into itaukei language, especially it’s convenient for rural communities, to understand and take ownership of the new Constitution. The people of Volivoli applaud the new Constitution, as it protects the rights of every Fijian and it also recognizes the rights of children, senior citizens and the persons with disabilities,” Mr Gavidi said.
Mrs Adisau Tabaiwalu, president of Vatukarasa women’s group thanked Dr Luveni for providing copies of the new Constitution.
“We are thankful to Dr Luveni for providing us with the copies of the new Constitution, women are at the heart of development and it’s important that we understand this supreme law of our land,” Mrs Tabaiwalu said.