Caption: The Acting High Commissioner for Australia His Excellency Glenn Miles and Empower Pacific’s Board Chairman Vishnu Deo during the launch of Empower Pacific’s new counselling centre . Photo: SUPPLIED
Communities in the Western Division will have better access to counselling services with the opening of the Australian-funded Empower Pacific Counselling Centre at Lautoka Hospital on Friday 7 March.
“This centre will enable the provision of appropriate and confidential counselling services to poor, marginalised and vulnerable target populations,” Acting Australian High Commissioner Mr Glenn Miles told guests at the opening.
The new centre will offer specialist counselling and consulting services, as well as counsellor training. Facilities include counselling rooms, a modernized training centre, and reception and staff areas. Services will target women, children, sex workers, youths, inmates, people with disabilities, people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups.
The $150,000 centre was funded through a partnership between civil society organisation Empower Pacific and the Australian Government’s Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP).
“Since 2005 Empower Pacific had been using a makeshift facility that was not conducive for our services. We are grateful to the Australian Government for their timely support and much needed assistance, which will greatly benefit the people of Fiji,” said Empower Pacific CEO, Patrick Morgam.
The Australian Government has supported Empower Pacific since 2010, most recently through its civil society program FCDP with a total investment of $355,000.
Mr Miles said that “civil society organisations are key partners in delivering [Australia’s] aid program, playing a vital role in improving the lives and livelihoods of the poor.”
FCDP Team Leader Michael Brownjohn wished Empower Pacific and the Lautoka Hospital well in their partnership, emphasizing the importance of services the counseling centre will provide for pregnant women attending the Antenatal Clinic.
“Empower Pacific provides a unique service in Fiji which is vital for the psycho – social well-being of many Fiji citizens. None of us should underestimate the importance of counselling, especially confidential counseling and supporting the needs of pregnant women,” Mr Brownjohn said.
According to Mr Miles, partnerships with CSOs like Empower Pacific are crucial for enhancing the wellbeing of communities in Fiji, particularly the vulnerable and socially excluded.
“To the management and staff of the Ministry of Health and Empower Pacific, I hope the facilities being opened today will not only equip you with the resources to carry out your work more effectively, but will provide you with an increased motivation and passion to carry on your important work,” Mr Miles said.