Sydney Spheres by Kalo Foleti
Tonga gets women’s crisis center for abuse victims November 18, 2009
New Tonga NGO aims to step up choices for Women and Children escaping violence.
The commencement this week of a new Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) for Tonga is good news for the Kingdom and comes at a time of year when global activism against violence against women steps up the pace for 16-days. But if the faces and the work of the Tonga Crisis Centre team look familiar, it’s because they are.
Crisis Centre Coordinator ‘Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki with 16 of the 17 staff of the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC) walked out on the 30 October on their previous jobs, tired of long-running grievances with the governing Advisory Board, which says Guttenbeil-Likiliki, “it just meant that we could not be independent from government and ensure our full autonomy as an NGO – and we so we couldn’t give fully and effectively of ourselves to the people we work with. It was not a sudden walkout and was a last ditch method after unsuccessful methods of engaging was exhausted. But we did it, and we wish the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC) well in their future activities.
Stepping out of paid NGO activism and into the less certain realm of volunteer work was not a decision the newly established WCCC team took lightly.
“Our members have families to support and bills to pay like everyone else, but they have insisted to continue our services and support – even if it means voluntary work –so that women and children know someone out there cares about their welfare when they are suffering any form of violence at the hands of those they love and trust, if its domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and harassment or any form of child abuse – we are here for them. This was our first step after leaving the TNCWC – affirming amongst ourselves our wish to remain together and give this work another shot,” says Guttenbeil-Likiliki. “So if you are a donor out there who can appreciate our situation, we would love to hear from you!” she laughs.
The WCCC was registered last week with the Ministry of Labour, Commerce and Industries, while moving into the new offices with makeshift and donated furniture. The WCCC is operating as a Collective, the Staff Collective, Management Collective and the Reference Group Collective.
Under the Management Collective there are three (3) Trustees who will ensure that the centre operates in accordance with sound legal and financial practices.
Guttenbeil-Likiliki says, “we have a real sense of excitement and purpose, and the staff are feeling the pinch in their pockets of being volunteers, but they don’t dwell on it. We just want to do the best job possible with what we have, for families affected by violence. We’re happy to collaborate with NGO’s and relevant government departments whose work in Tonga supports work around *Ending Violence Against Women and Children.*
The moving-on energy has meant the week started with a full plate. The Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) hosted a one day regional meeting on Monday 09 November of the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Women Reference Group. “We had five heads from Pacific centres, networks and organizations working towards the elimination of violence against women and children to talk over the development of a new training / communication handbook on Male Advocacy, so we’ve hit the ground running, so to speak.
A formal public launch of the WCCC will be held along with an open-day on December 03 as part of the 16-days of activism campaign, says Guttenbeil-Likiliki. “But, for this week it’s been great having the support and encouragement the Pacific Network, especially the Chair of the network and Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Ms. Shamima Ali who herself has given and proven best practice leadership to the FWCCC for 25 years.”
“Domestic Violence, rape, sexual assault / harassment and all forms of child abuse is still largely un-reported in Tonga, and part of the work of the WCCC is to raise awareness of these issues and encourage more women and children to come out and speak out against these types of violences and more importantly for the community to understand and know that violence against women and children is a crime” says Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
The WCCC staff will continue carrying out the work it did previously but now we will be able to intensify our advocacy role with greater freedom and autonomy.
The new staff collective of the WCCC are Vika ‘Akauola, Kilisitina Pifeleti, Leti Siliva, Susana ‘Uhatafe, Latai Peauafi, Lu’isa Samani, ‘Asela Sauaki, Sela Sausini Tu’ipulotu, Foketi Kavapele, ‘Usaia Hemaloto, Sione ‘Akauola, Mapakiefa Finau, Ma’ake Manu, Leeanne Torpey, Sr. Anuncia Fifita and ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
The new WCCC head office is located in Fanga ‘O Pilolevu directly behind the Free Weslyan Church off Taufa’ahau Road. The Mo’ui Ke Fiefia Shelter is a private location with 24 hour, seven day security. The 24 telephone counseling line is 22 240. Along with the counseling and care support, team members of the WCCC staff collective will be focusing on community education, advocacy and research and lobbying for positive policy and legislative change, women’s empowerment and male advocacy.
You can listen to the Radio Australia interview here.
Hopenhagen Ambassador Contest
Hopenhagen.org is working to connect every person, city and nation with what is happening at the conference in Copenhagen, believing that citizens can help push the fate of the planet down a positive path by showing political leaders that the citizens of world passionately want them to reach an agreement that would limit how much carbon emissions each country would produce. Leaders are shying away from making these commitments, and Hopenhagen.org wants to show there is a strong political will to set emissions targets — which would mean more green jobs, and a more sustainable future for people everywhere.
The Pacific island countries are subject to the impacts of global warming caused by excessive fossil fuel burning, atmospheric pollution, and deforestation of the land hemisphere. The small islands of the world have good cause to be worried, with sea levels rising to the point where whole island nations could become submerged. Where would that leave the people who inhabit those islands?
If you are passionate about the issue of global warming and climate change, and the impact it has on the Pacific islands, why not have you say by taking part in the Hopenhagen Ambassador Contest where a citizen journalist will be sent to Copenhagen for the climate conference, to represent the tiny island of the Pacific.
Ta’ahine Tonga November 16, 2009
Tahine (Ta’ahine) Tonga by Kalo (Fainu) Foleti 2009
Tahine Tonga is a short ‘experimental film’ by Kalo Foleti. The film was shot using a 16mm bolex film camera mixed with DV and stills. The film is the story of a young Tongan girl’s journey back in time, revealing her inner self and a sense of longing she has for her homeland. I hope you enjoy.
Don't Pacify Me November 12, 2009
Don’t Pacify Me
As I continue my search for artists is the realm of the Pacific, I came across an exhibition that was held earlier in the year in New Zealand called, “Don’t Pacific Me”.
The exhibition brings together an impressive roll call of eighteen senior Pacific students from five Auckland art schools. The artists’ Pacific identity is explored through painting, photography, moving image, sculpture, design and installation. The artists include Cerisse Palalagi, Claudia Jowitt, David Sun, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Kalisolaite Uhila, Mele Mafile’o Uhamaka, Nooroa Tapuni, Pelenato Liufau, Paula Schaafhausen, Petelo Esekielu, Penitoa Finau, Samantha Atasani, Ahilapalapa Rands, Amanda Warwick, Ane Tonga, Siliga Setoga, Vaimoana Eves, Victoria Patea. The curator is Charmaine Ilaiu and the event is presented by the Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust.
It was exciting to stumble upon a collaborative of artists exploring Pacific Identity through various art forms and visual media. However, as is with the majority of practising and emerging artists who’s work encompasses Pacific Islander themes, most of these works come from New Zealand. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, New Zealand is a leader in it’s involvment in, and support of, Pacific Islander art practices. Hopefully through the promotion of Pacific Islander themes here on Pacific Docs we will start to see more artists emerge in Australia and directly out of the islands. Come on people, I know your out there, make yourself known and help promote and represent the creative talent within Pacific Islander communities.
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Transcripts Available: Tonga Royal Commission Inquiry into Sinking of Princess Ashika
The 37-year-old ferry, Princess Ashika, sank on August 5 on a voyage from Nuku’alofa with the loss of 75 lives. The majority of those lives belonged to women and children who slept below deck at the time of the tradgedy.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry has been told passengers were asked to bail out water from the deck of the Princess Ashika moments before it sank.
Full transcripts are available on each day’s hearing of the Tonga’s Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Sinking of the Princess Ashika. For a more detailed account and links to transcripts, visit PacificEyewitness.
Visual arts student Penitoa Finau’s final year presentation – giant 12-metre by three-metre photographic image featuring a striking image of people mourning those who died in the Princess Ashika ferry tragedy in Tonga.
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There once was an Island – Te Henua e Noho November 10, 2009
Excerpt from On The Level Productions:
What if your community had to decide whether to leave their homeland forever? This is the reality for the culturally unique Polynesian community of Takuu, a tiny low-lying atoll in the South Western Pacific. As a terrifying tidal flood rips through their already eroded home, the Takuu community experiences the devastating effects of climate change first hand. In this verite-style film, three intrepid characters Telo, Endar and Satty, allow us into their lives and their culture and show us first hand the human impact of an environmental crisis. Two scientists, oceanographer John Hunter and geomorphologist Scott Smithers, investigate the situation with our characters, outlining what they think is going to happen as the atoll continues to disintegrate and what can be done about it. Intimate observational scenes allow Telo, Endar and Satty to take us on their personal journeys as they consider whether to move to an uncertain future in Bougainville or to stay on Takuu and fight for a different, but equally uncertain, outcome. Government officials in impoverished Bougainville discuss the limited options the islanders have.
Check it out below:
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