Homes Care Payout Totals $7.1M

The Fiji Government commit­ted a staggering $7,125,200 and issued 5387 Homes CARE assistance cards over the past three days to people living in affected areas. This was confirmed by the
05 May 2018 11:00
Homes Care Payout Totals $7.1M
Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Permanent Secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta with Minister for Women Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa flanked by teachers of Lovu Sangam School in Lautoka, on May 4, 2018. Photo: Peni Komaisavai

The Fiji Government commit­ted a staggering $7,125,200 and issued 5387 Homes CARE assistance cards over the past three days to people living in affected areas.

This was confirmed by the Per­manent Secretary for the Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Josefa Koroivueta, during a press conference at the Lovu Sangam School in Lautoka yesterday.

“In three days we were able to as­sist 5387 families whose houses had been damaged or whose household items had been lost or damaged during the flood and that is to a tune of $7.1million, so it was a rapid re­sponse to the affected families,” Dr Koroivueta said.

He said 20 teams had been de­ployed to affected areas from Siga­toka to Ra in the Western Division and in Labasa for the Northern Di­vision.

“We will stay in these affected communities for one month. We have a plan. The max for the op­erations will be one month at the max,” Dr Koroivueta said.

He said all the sites where their teams were deployed to were active.

“We have teams that we have teamed up with such as the Fiji Elections Office, the Fiji Police for security and Vodafone, so it is quite a mixed team with the noble inten­tion to rapidly respond and to make sure that only those that deserved to be assisted do get the Homes CARE coverage,” Dr Koroivueta said.

13,161 Beneficiaries on welfare care

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa said this was in relation to those current beneficiaries of So­cial Welfare programmes.

“We have assisted them. These are welfare recipients in the affected areas who have been assessed by our officers as being affected by the floods,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

She said 13,161 Social Welfare beneficiaries had been assessed and assisted to a tune of $1.1m, whereas these would be added to their accounts.

“So for the month of May it will be doubled basically where they will receive their normal benefits with the other half being welfare care.”

Specific assistance for flooding, landslides

Ms Vuniwaqa clarified that assis­tance was specifically for those who were affected by floodwaters and landslide.

“For rain not unless that rain led to flooding, the specific assistance is in relation to floodwaters and landslides because the whole of Fiji was affected by rain,” she said.

She said a specific line had to be drawn between what the Homes CARE and Welfare Care assistance covered.

Ms Vuniwaqa was pushing a point home because there had been cases where some people were still not clear on eligibility criteria.

“What we found out this morning (yesterday) was that a lot of peo­ple whose household goods have been damaged by rain coming in through the windows lined up to claim for this,” she said.

“I just want to reiterate that the assistance Government is giving in relation to Homes CARE are for those household goods and struc­tural damage in the event of flood­ing or landslides in some areas,” she said.

Warning against providing false in­formation

“People can be prosecuted if they make false declarations, for giving false information and it is very critical for members of the public who are thinking of applying to Homes CARE to be honest because after this exercise there will be an audit,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

She said ministry officials would look at those cases where there had been an allegation that members of the public lied in their applications.

The Statutory Declaration binds the applicant to be honest with their information provided, hence they could serve up to 10 years im­prisonment and could also pay a fine of FJD$20000.

Government programmes to help homeless Fijians

Ms Vuniwaqa made it clear that Government had programmes for people living on the streets of the areas affected.

“If they were already on our pro­gramme then they will be assisted through our welfare programme, but if you know of these people let us know because we do have pro­grammes in place despite what we are doing right now,” she said.

“There is an ongoing programme in the ministry where we can look for assistance for these persons.”

She reiterated that some of these homeless individuals had homes, but chose to live on the streets.

“We have a programme where we work with Non-Government Organ­isations (NGO) in trying to either build an income-generating project where they find their own form of revenue or we integrate them back in to society.”

He said this project is called the Loloma operation, where they worked with NGOs and the Fiji Po­lice.

Government plans home for chal­lenged citizens

The Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister revealed that Government would look at consul­tations in regards to looking at a building of a home for psychoso­cially-challenged persons.

“That is an ongoing project, Gov­ernment is looking to building a home, the first one in Fiji to cater for psychosocially-challenged per­sons who are living on the streets or homeless,” she said.

Ms Vuniwaqa highlighted that this home would most like be built in Suva, but would cater for and be opened to all psychosocially-chal­lenged persons in Fiji.

Edited by Epineri Vula


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