Budget 2019

Fiji Budget 2019: Fijians Getting Assistance

...the biggest challenge the ministry encounters is the lack of support from the families and communities to support some of these individuals - Jennifer Poole, Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation
26 May 2019 14:49
Fiji Budget 2019: Fijians Getting Assistance
Jennifer Poole, Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation

In the current financial year (2018-2019) the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation took on financial responsibility of 15,798 more Fijians, bringing the total number of Fijians receiving social welfare benefits to 83,907.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Poole confirmed that $7.7 million was spent on this.

There were efforts to keep beggars off the streets. Has the ministry been successful in this? What has been the biggest challenge here?

The ministry has established a unit to work on the issue of begging and homelessness.

The unit has assessed known beggars and have assisted those where possible and removed those that were discovered to be well off and had properties or homes.

We have supported others to return to their families and have made some referrals to the Old People’s Homes and the Good Samaritan Inn (Suva) after assessing their cases.

However, the biggest challenge the Ministry encounters is the lack of support from the families and communities to support some of these individuals. As many of these cases were assessed and discovered to have families and relatives however, there was no support coming from these sources.

This is why many of them do return to the streets after we have placed them back with their families. Many of these individuals were on the streets because their families pushed them out or due to challenges such as their mental state and/or because they are not contributing to the family income.

Some are forced by their families to beg so that they can contribute to the family income. The other challenge that the ministry faced is the lack of support from the other stakeholders and society to help government to attend to this issue and to encourage families to care for their relatives.

This is not an issue for the ministry alone to solve,  but it involves other stakeholders, families, faith based organisations, NGO’s and business houses to work together to address it.

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Who has benefited the most through your ministry?

The Ministry equally assists and supports the most vulnerable including women, children, older persons and persons living with disabilities equally and with due care and regard.

What has been the biggest challenge for your ministry in the current financial year?

The MWCPA always faces a challenge in terms of accommodation for our offices and services due to the shortage of available office space in some areas. In Suva our ministry is spread over three buildings, which can be a challenge sometimes.

We do our best to respond quickly to public inquiries. We receive a broad range of public inquiries and requests for services and we must prioritise the poorest and most needy and the most vulnerable. We hope the public can understand that we do our best to prioritise.

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Final remarks:

The ministry is looking forward to working with partners and stakeholders in 2019 and 2020 to strengthen support systems for the most vulnerable persons.

The ministry is supporting the Women’s Expo on the 12th to 14th June to enhance and support women in business in micro, small and medium enterprises – because supporting women in business improves livelihoods and is key to strengthening social protection for the whole family and community.


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