Gender-Based Violence Counselling Course for the Pacific

Joint Media Release: FWCC, UN Women, European Union, Australian Government

Date: Friday, September 7, 2018

More than 30 counsellors from 11 Pacific countries are attending the Level-1 Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Counsellors Course for the Pacific two-week trial that began today. Photo: Jacqui Berrell / UN Women

Monday 10 September 2018 (Pacific Harbour, Fiji) – A Level-1 Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Counsellors Course for the Pacific starts its trial today with more than 25 counsellors from 10 Pacific countries.

The regional course runs from 10-21 September in Fiji, and is designed to strengthen the quality and culturally appropriate capacity of counselling services that deal with survivors of gender-based violence in the Pacific.

It is being delivered by Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s (FWCC) Regional Training Institute (RTI)/Feminist Learning for Advocacy Research & Empowerment (FLARE), in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) and endorsed by the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women.

The GBV counselling course is supported by the EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), funded by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and UN Women (EUR 0.6m).

“For twenty years FWCC has provided quality GBV training, based on international best practice,” said Shamima Ali, Coordinator of FWCC, adding that: “Now we’re taking the next step to formalise a level-1 course to provide a standardardised approach to support GBV counsellors and help Pacific governments comply with GBV legislation.” 

“Impressively, 12 Pacific countries and two states have family protection or domestic violence legislation that all address counselling including minimum requirements and recognition that survivors of GBV need specialised counsellors – we want to help partners meet those standards,” Ms Ali said.

The Team Leader for Natural Resources and Governance at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Ms Ingrid Swinnen, said: “It is critical to support initiatives such as this foundation counselling course to ensure survivors of violence against women and girls have access to quality counselling, and that GBV counsellors first responders have the support they need to provide those quality services”.

“The European Union is proud to support this approach, as it is strongly committed to a human rights based, survivor centred approach, thereby supporting the empowerment of women of all ages and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls around the world.”

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, said: “The Australian Government is pleased to be supporting a course which will address some of the gaps last year’s ‘Review of Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Counselling Services in the Pacific’ discovered in training for GBV first responders and counsellors.”

“The review was released by the Pacific Women Sharping Pacific Development programme, supported by the Australian Government, and we are pleased to now be supporting this course that addresses some of the review’s key findings, through our Pacific Partnership co-funding.”

Leading the course is Shamima Ali, Coordinator of Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s (FWCC), partnering with facilitators including Abigail Erikson, Programme Advisor EVAWG UN Women Fiji MCO. Photo: Jacqui Berrell / UN Women

UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) Ending Violence Against Women Programme Advisor Abigail Erikson explained this is the first Level-1 regional course offered by FWCC in partnership with UN Women, with the content reflecting both international and Pacific best practice.

“While many Pacific countries work on implementing their GBV-related legislation, all passed since 2008, a critical component is ensuring that GBV counselling meets a standard of quality and care in the Pacific region,” she said.

“To assist GBV counselling services meet those standards Pacific governments, civil society and other partners, including UN Women, are working together on a broad regional approach.

“That approach incorporates quality standardised training, improving access to quality training for GBV counsellors in the Pacific, as well as supporting partners to develop counselling standards and registration processes that comply with GBV legislation across the region,” said Ms Erikson.

The two-week course is being held at The Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, and is the first in a series of GBV counselling training being planned.

The GBV counselling course is being led by three of the Pacific’s key facilitators and crisis centre leaders who, combined, offer more than 70 years of experience: Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Vanuatu Women's Centre; ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Director of the Women & Children Crisis Center in Tonga; and Shamima Ali, Coordinator of FWCC in Fiji. In addition, UN Women will be co-facilitating parts of the course.

The GBV counselling course funded by the Pacific Partnership that brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors. The EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership is funded primarily by the European Union with targeted support from the Australian Government and UN Women.

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Shamima Ali | Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC)
Email: fwcc.shamima@gmail.com | Ph: 999 2875

Jacqui Berrell | Communications and Media Specialist, UN Women MCO Fiji
Email: jacqui.berrell@unwomen.org | Ph: +679 330 1178 ext 145

Kamni Narayan | European Union (EU), Communications Unit
Email: kamni.narayan@eeas.europa.eu | Ph: +679 3313 633, ext 115

Mohammed-Nazeem Kasim | European Union (EU), Communications Unit
Email: nazeem.kasim@eeas.europa.eu | Ph: +679 3313 633 ext 11 or Mobile: +679 9920 597

Dawn Gibson or Belinda Fraser | Australian Government, Australian High Commission Media
Email: dawn.gibson@dfat.gov.au or belinda.fraser@dfat.gov.au | Ph: 3388390  or Mobile 7071258


Social media – suggestions:

Twitter:

  • Twitter – Starting this week we’re partnering with @FWCCcomms Regional Training Institute (RTI) to deliver a formalised #GenderBasedViolence #Counselling Course for the #Pacific! This course is for Pacific Islander counsellors working with survivors of #GBV

Facebook:

  • A Level-1 Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Counsellors Course for the Pacific starts its trial today with more than 25 counsellors from 10 Pacific countries.

    The course runs from 10-21 September, at The Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, and is designed to strengthen the quality and culturally appropriate capacity of counselling services that deal with survivors of gender-based violence in the Pacific.

    It is being delivered by FWCC’s Regional Training Institute (RTI)/Feminist Learning for Advocacy Research & Empowerment (FLARE), in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) and endorsed by the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women.

    The GBV counselling course is supported by the EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), funded by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and UN Women (EUR 0.6m).

    The two-week course is the first in a series of GBV counselling training being planned.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION:


The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world – twice the global average with an estimated two in every three Pacific women impacted by gender-based violence. Along with high rates of violence – a violation of human rights – women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision making, limited economic opportunities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.

To achieve this, the Pacific Partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; to ensure survivors have access to quality response services; and to support national and regional institutions to meet their commitments to gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. Working through partners, it will promote equal rights and opportunities for all Pacific people, through innovative approaches to education, access to essential services, and policy development.

The EUR 19.5 million partnership is primarily funded by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) that supports all three outcome areas of the programme, with the Australian Government providing targeted funding to the second outcome (EUR 6.2m) supported by UN Women (EUR 0.6m). The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).