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SPC takes action on domestic violence by supporting staff

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media release

Domestic Violence Workshop

FWCC Coordinator, Shamima Ali addresses SPC staff on Domestic Violence

Suva, Fiji – In response to the death of an employee, Losana McGowan, earlier this year following an alleged domestic violence incident, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is taking action to build more awareness within the workplace.

“At SPC, we’re moving to ensure that our staff are better informed and that there are proper systems in place to provide resources and adequate support to staff who are experiencing domestic violence,” the Director of SPC’s Geoscience Division, Professor Michael Petterson, said.

A workshop was held this week in Suva by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), as a pilot for SPC staff from the division that Losana had worked, to build on the healing process and awareness on the issues of domestic violence.

The workshop was led by FWCC Coordinator, Shamima Ali, following a request from SPC, and is part of the Centre’s ongoing outreach with many agencies and stakeholders.

“Our workshops help people develop a better understanding of domestic violence and issues relating to it, including gender power relations and their link to domestic violence, and to gain skills for appropriate responses to domestic violence,” Ms Ali said.

The workshop is just one action being taken by SPC to address this issue with its staff. SPC is updating its domestic violence policy, to make it more visible and relevant for staff. Its release will be accompanied by training for SPC staff to ensure that everyone is educated on these issues and better equipped to seek help or provide support to those who need it.

“The workshop gave staff an opportunity to discuss issues of domestic violence in a free and open setting. The training was well received, with many of our staff reporting that it made them more aware of the root causes of domestic violence and of the resources available in Fiji to seek help and support,” Prof Petterson said.

SPC also works externally to support Pacific Island countries and territories on the issue of domestic violence, through its Social Development Division. Over the past years, SPC has engaged its staff in the White Ribbon campaign, in which men take the stance of never to condone violence against women, across all offices to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

A 2013 report from FWCC identifies that in Fiji 64% of women who have ever been in an intimate relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner in their lifetime, and 24% are suffering from physical or sexual partner violence today (Somebody’s Life, Everybody’s Business, FWCC, 2013).



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Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2015 10:34  

Newsflash

Dr. Russell Howorth has been elected Chairman of the Legal and Technical Commission of the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

With the election of Dr. Howorth, the Pacific continues to play a prominent role at ISA; its President, Peter Thomson, is Fiji’s permanent representative to the United Nations, while ISA’s first Secretary General, Satya Nand, is a former Fiji Ambassador.  Dr. Howorth is the Director of SOPAC, a division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

ISA was established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and currently has 162 member states. It is an autonomous international organization, to which state parties to the Convention are given the responsibility of organising, controlling and administering the resources of the international seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

In his capacity as chairman of the Legal and Technical Commission, Dr. Howorth presides over a 25-member council that is entrusted with functions relating to activities in the international seabed.

Included in these are the review of applications for plans of work, supervision of exploration or mining activities and the assessment of the environmental impact of such activities.

The Commission also provides advice to the International Seabed Authority’s Assembly and Council on all matters relating to exploration and exploitation of non-living marine resources (such as polymetallic [manganese] nodules, polymetallic (sulphides and cobalt crusts).

While Dr. Howorth’s term on the Legal and Technical Commission is for five years, his chairmanship is for the coming year.