CAPTION: Women in Soso village delighted with the timely gift for their women’s group in Kadavu.
1. FIJI AND PNG COMMENDED FOR HIV FIGHT – The Governments of Fiji and Papua New Guinea have been applauded for taking the first steps to review laws and policies which impact on human rights-based health programme initiatives and the rights of people living with HIV.
2. FOCUS IS ON THE PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT – Fiji will host the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on nature conservation and protected areas this December. Department of Environment director, Mr Jope Davetanivalu said Fiji had existing environmental laws at national level that would be reviewed through the progress of programmes.
3. DR LUVENI REACHES OUT TO ISOLATED COMMUNITIES – In the quest to develop women in outer island areas, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni is now touring villages in Kadavu.
4. WORKSHOP BUILDS INTERNAL AUDITORS CAPACITY – The Ministry of Finance (MOF) in Fiji and the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) recently launched a two-day workshop on Public Sector Auditing.
5. STAKEHOLDERS MEET TO DISCUSS STRATEGIES – The first education forum for this year was an opportunity for various stakeholders in the sector to provide constructive suggestions to improve service delivery for our future leaders of the country.
1. FIJI AND PNG COMMENDED FOR HIV FIGHT
The Governments of Fiji and Papua New Guinea have been applauded for taking the first steps to review laws and policies which impact on human rights-based health programme initiatives and the rights of people living with HIV.
This was highlighted during a regional consultation on the need to review laws and policies against those living with HIV and AIDS.
Speaking on behalf of civil service organisations, Fiji’s Temo Sasau said the efforts made by both Fiji and PNG were commendable in highlighting the need to stop discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.
“This is an opportunity for us to build on our efforts to identify key aspects of the legal environment – laws, law enforcement practices and access to justice – that are hindering access to HIV services for people living with HIV and key populations, and to map out a time-bound action plan to address this,” Mr Sasau said.
“The Governments of PNG and Fiji must be commended for taking a lead role in advancing the issues of HIV/AIDS.”
There are only 1,000 days left until the deadline for achieving HIV targets.
In the Pacific, in the area of legislation and reform, much has been done – legal environments have been reviewed, declarations have been made, for example the Auckland and Suva Declarations.
Fijian President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said progress towards legislative amendments had been slow, because HIV-related law reform could be a monumental challenge, given the punitive approach and the high levels of stigma and discrimination.
“Sex workers and men who have sex with men face the constant threat of arrest, conviction, and incarceration in the Pacific and in countries in other regions as well. Programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase access to justice remain under-funded and at a small scale,” Ratu Epeli said.
The consultation is being done with government and civil society organization representatives from seven Pacific nations (Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) to review laws and policies which impact on human rights-based health programming initiatives and the rights of people living with HIV.
2. FOCUS IS ON THE PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT
Fiji will host the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on nature conservation and protected areas this December.
Department of Environment director, Mr Jope Davetanivalu said Fiji had existing environmental laws at national level that would be reviewed through the progress of programmes.
“We need to review the mangrove, bird and wildlife and forests conservations action plans which are built in the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan,” Mr Davetanivalu said.
“One area the department focuses on is the progress on awareness, for instance, most villages in the province of Macuata have restricted areas of fishing.”
Marine and mangrove protected areas have been identified and endorsed by traditional leaders within Macuata.
Mr Davetanivalu said one of the positives on awareness programmes was work the department and other stakeholders had worked on to conserve our natural reserves.
International Union for Conservation of Nature director, Mr Taholo Kami said climate change reminded humanity that we had overstepped our boundaries.
“This regional conference will assist pacific islanders to adopt natural solutions in combating the effects of climate change and learn to protect our environment,” Mr Kami said.
“We need to assist our communities to promote the protection of ecosystems and adaptation methods in combating climate change.”
This year’s conference will hold the theme – Natural Solutions: Building resilience for a changing Pacific.
A 2012 Budget allocation of $200,000 from the Government will assist in preparations to host this most significant conference in the Pacific.
3. DR LUVENI REACHES OUT TO ISOLATED COMMUNITIES
In the quest to develop women in outer island areas, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni is now touring villages in Kadavu.
The ministerial four-day tour began on Tuesday by completing a one hour journey in a fibreglass outboard boat to reach Soso Village nestled in the mountains of Naceva district in the Kadavu province.
Dr Luveni met with the women groups from Naceva district namely Yavitu, Joma, Niudua, Vukavu, Kadavu Koro and Nacomoto at Soso Village. Dr Luveni is the first women’s minister to visit Naceva district.
During her discussions with the communities, Dr Luveni provided first hand information on women empowerment and social welfare programs, the villagers also had the opportunity to discuss issues concerning the women and social welfare.
With much delight, the Naceva Women’s Group president Ilisapeci Votonimoli welcomed the government officials to the village saying it was their long awaited wish to meet the Minister for Women.
“We are really happy and glad that the minister, Dr Luveni has come all the way from Suva to visit us today. Usually, we hear her on the radio talking about women’s programs but today we had the opportunity to meet her personally,” Mrs Votonimoli said.
“The women in Kadavu face many difficulties. There are no permanent jobs in terms of supporting our living so we mostly depend on fishing. The minister’s visit here has inspired the people. It has challenged the women to come out of their comfort zones and work together as a group to improve the lives of their families.”
The women’s groups were also presented with 11 sewing machines to help them with their income generating projects.
Soso Village spokesperson, Mr Gordon Fong thanked the Government for this donation.
“The sewing machines will add value to the income generating initiatives of the women’s group and contribute towards poverty alleviation,” Mr Fong said.
“Children will now have proper school uniforms because women’s groups will sew school uniforms and clothes for their villages. Today’s visit by the minister is a reflection of the government’s commitment to reach out to the remote communities and help them addressing their economic challenges.”
Dr Luveni in her opening address reiterated that, “women are agents of change, they play an important role in food security and poverty alleviation. The visit to communities enables them to have access to information on government programmes and it also builds the network to provide them with opportunities to generate economic growth and improve the livelihood of people in rural and remote communities”.
The minister opened the Southern Star Women’s Resource Centre in Vunisea and she also visited people Muanisolo Village today.
Today she visited Tavuki Village to present the certificate of declaration to Tavuki for the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign. Tomorrow, the Minister will meet the people from Daku Village before returning to Suva.
4. WORKSHOP BUILDS INTERNAL AUDITORS CAPACITY
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) in Fiji and the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) recently launched a two-day workshop on Public Sector Auditing.
In officially opening the workshop, MOF acting permanent secretary Mr David Kolitagane, remarked: “I firmly trust that this joint training initiative will help steer the Ministry of Finance to an enhanced level of performance, not only with the achievement of its core deliverables but likewise towards the modernization of the ministry”.
In his opening remarks, PICPA director Siosiua Utoikamanu explained that “the training is one of PICPA’s key deliverables, and we are pleased to be able to contribute to this training for the staff of MOF”.
“Such partnerships with the MOF and Government of Fiji is hoped to facilitate more efficient delivery of services to citizens”.
Mr Kolitagane said the training conducted here hoped to build capacity for internal auditors with MOF because this was extremely critical towards keeping in line with government’s desire to modernize the civil service to one that was more responsive and attuned to the needs of the public at large.
This will be the first in a series of capacity building workshops that MOF and PICPA will partner to deliver. Three more workshops planned for April 2013 are on Public Sector Accounting, Ethics and Governance in the Public Sector, and Public Sector Risk Management.
University of the South Pacific, head of School for Accounting and Finance, Professor Arvind Patel will facilitate the workshop.
PICPA, based at the USP in Suva, is a specialist centre which responds to the needs and plans identified by Pacific Island Countries for strengthened public administration to enable improved service delivery to their people and foster economic growth.
There were 20 staff from the MOF that attended the workshop.
5. STAKEHOLDERS MEET TO DISCUSS STRATEGIES
The first education forum for this year was an opportunity for various stakeholders in the sector to provide constructive suggestions to improve service delivery for our future leaders of the country.
Ministry of Education permanent secretary, Dr Brij Lal said the forum was an advisory body that provided views for an improved and strengthened education operation system.
Dr Lal said there were 41 initiatives implemented by the ministry last year, which would be fine tuned to make it more relevant to stakeholders.
“The Food Voucher program has been dropped because there has been no funding from Social Welfare Department. Similarly, our boat and engine supply has been stopped due to zero budget,” Dr Lal told stakeholders.
He said the tropical cyclone rehabilitation work was almost complete.
“Tropical Cyclone Evan caused extensive damage in the Western Division, especially from Sabeto to Ba, part of the Northern Division and a few schools here in the Central Division,” Dr Lal said.
“I had said in the media that all schools should start on time and all schools did start on time.
“We are thankful to all agencies that came in, worked hard and made things possible where they were able to put back the classrooms, put temporary shelters and tents to enable classes start on time.”
Dr Lal said there were some schools still undergoing repairs, which should be completed in the next two weeks.
He reiterated to the forum that any extra school levies charged by the schools needed the approval of the permanent secretary for Education.
“Textbooks is another area of concern. We have provided some textbooks, not all. The list must be clearly shown in all schools as to what textbooks have been supplied,” the permanent secretary said.
“Parents are only required to buy textbooks that are not supplied by MOE. Schools should not provide a list of those books that we supply.”
School managements have also been urged by the ministry not to disallow students into the school for late arrivals.
“Restrictions on students arriving late- some school heads have put a regulation of closing the gates,” Dr Lal said.
“Children are supposed to be at school rather than being sent home for arriving late. There are other good ways to tackle this problem.
“Now that we are moving into this scenarios of having IT in the schools, we’d like to see classrooms that can have more power points, fans, better table arrangements and more conducive for learning for children,” Dr Lal added.
The next education forum will be held on Thursday, August 8, 2013.