Public Servants Awareness Raised On Violence

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  • SSFA staff Muliagatele Elaine Betham.  LTA manager Savaii division- Tuisega Lui
    SSFA staff Muliagatele Elaine Betham.  LTA manager Savaii division- Tuisega Lui

The first phase of the Public Service Awareness on 'Healthy Relationships' which aims at  promoting safe environment for families and wellbeing in the workplace started last week.

The workshop is part of the strings of awareness rollout projects initiated for 2 years to implement recommendations featured in the Report issued by the Ombudsman and NHRI to inquiries to violence in 2018 which invited representatives from different government ministries.

The key area that the workshop aims to emphasize is the importance of becoming proactive in ensuring that employees within government ministries are accommodated in how to pick up signs of violence and trying to sort them out before it is too late.

An observation by the Office of the Ombudsman identified that while many awareness programs have targeted villages, the individuals who work often miss out on  opportunities to be also educated and made aware of the various programs that can also benefit them. While most of the common perceptions may have indicated  that family violence occur in families with low educational background, the  Inquiry and research by the Ministry of Women in 2017 indicated that many reported cases of family violence involve individuals with high educational background and public sector workers.

Participants who were part of the first phase of 'Public Service Awareness on 'Healthy Relationships'  promoting safe environment for families and wellbeing for all' workshop facilitated by the Ombudsman Office on Friday expressed how grateful they are for the chance they have finally been given to be more active in contributing to maintaining violence free workplace as well as to balance their personal lives. Also ensures better communication so that they can remain active in the national push for ending violence.

Representative of the Samoa Sports Facilities Authority (SSFA), Muliagatele Elaine Betham spoke to Newsline Samoa that what she has gained from the workshop would  help her be more vigilant.

“We as public servants should be more careful with how we carry ourselves and that we should be more professional in what we do,” Muliagatele said.

“It is important to set good examples for the country by leading with our high ethics and maintain good relationships inside and off work. Of course we should be role models and let the solutions begin with us.”

 Muliagatele said  government employees should be transparent and  keep thye conversation going and establish better communication amongst co-workers and family members.

Being aware of cases of domestic violence involving a public servant whose wife  poured hot water over him because of an alleged affair with another,  Muliagatele said  that such horrific incidents would have prevented if workshops of this nature had been available earlier.

“As public servants it is a shame to end up in the public eye because of such horrible actions we provoke. As public servants, we should be more respectful in how we carry ourselves to avoid getting involved in these very unfortunate situations.

“ I am one of the few women working in a male dominated workplace and to be honest, we know our limits. We respect our colleagues but keep things professionally and up to acceptable standards. It is challenging to do it but we should always remember who we are when we face these situations as we don't want to be questioned for our actions and our loved ones are affected.

“ We should lead the conversation and be the leaders to carry out great things to eliminate violence from our communities”

Muliagatele says she knows that the workshop has helped her as a young adult to prepare for the married life as well.

LTA manager for Savaii division, Tuisega Lui was equally satisfied with the program when he spoke to Newsline Samoa.

'There is no denying that of all the programs like these on TV, I have always yearned for a chance to become involved in this type of workshop.  This workshop has given me more understanding of how important it is to help minimize domestic violence in communities and workplace.

“ This has also benefitted me in the way my family can also be assisted with this knowledge I have so that I can be more responsible with my actions and be an example to colleagues and also people in my community.

“I have also come to realize that in some situations domestic violence can happen everywhere, to everyone. We know for a fact that domestic violence comes in many forms and it can happen in the workplace where even verbal harassment and inappropriate gestures, these can all be signs of violence that should never happen.'

  • Lui believes that with more workshops for public servants, there is definitely going to be a change in the efforts of the advocates.

The workshop highlighted a high profile case involving a prominent public servant who passed away last year. Noticeably the Office, alleged that  violence happened to someone who was 'least thought of to be a victim,' the Office realizes the need to treat family violence as a public matter in regards to victims that are hard to notice their struggles.