9th December 04:38 AM
Govt takes on board recommendations from National Dialogue Substance Abuse – Let’s Talk About It! Finding a Fijian Solution!
By Naveel Krishant
Thursday 14/11/2019
Leadership Fiji Chairman, William Parkinson and Deputy Secretary for Defence, Ilai Moceica

The government has taken on board the recommendations that came out from the National Dialogue Substance Abuse – Let’s Talk About It! Finding a Fijian Solution!. 

This was organised by Leadership Fiji with the support of the Ministry of Defence and National Security.

Deputy Secretary for Defence, Ilai Moceica has committed that the issues will be looked at and will be socialised with the Permanent Secretaries of the different ministries for them to have a look at the outcome document.

Moceica says after this, proposed laws in the forms of bills will be looked at in parliament.

He also says that they were hoping to organize such a dialogue and has thanked Leadership Fiji for the initiative.

The 14 outcomes from National Dialogue were as follows - to invest in comprehensive research to gather data to understand and identify the issues surrounding substance abuse in Fiji.

They request that the National Substance Abuse Council compile a standard inclusive strategic information kit for communities to use to create awareness.

The kit should detail the physical and mental damage caused by substance abuse.

They commit to building and using current networks across the community to spread information on the issue of substance abuse.

This should include all government and traditional platforms. 

They recognize the critical need for rehabilitation centres to be built. The outcome says the minimum goal should be the establishment of centres in Suva, West and Northern Division.

The outcome document also recommends the urgent need for resources to be allocated to the training of social and clinical professional counsellors. 

It says if possible, drug rehabilitation centres should be separate from mental health institutions. 

The outcome document also highlights the need to create safe spaces across the community in schools, churches and other groups where addicts and their families can go for help without being judged or prosecuted. 

They recommend that the law focuses on drug addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal act and that a working group be formed to look at the decriminalization of drug use or addiction. 

The outcome document also suggests the importance of the community working with the Police in tackling this issue. 

It further recommends that crime prevention committees and community policing initiatives be established in crime hot spots to assist the police. 

The outcome document also recognises that family plays a pivotal role and therefore family structures must be strengthened to prevent drug use and addiction. 

It says resources need to be allocated for the training and employment of counsellors in our schools. 

The outcome document also suggests the importance of understanding and promoting healthy alternative activities for young people like sports, arts, or music at the community level.

It also suggests employers need to be engaged to assist with drug use education and prevention in the workplace.

There is an urgent need to support rehabilitation services in our prisons and these should be linked to the yellow ribbon program in assisting a successful re-entry of inmates to the community.

The outcome document suggests we need to review laws and regulations to restrict the purchase of items that could be used for the manufacture of illegal substances or substance abuse.

It says they know that new synthetic drugs are entering Fiji all the time adding they need to review laws and regulations regularly and make them flexible enough to prevent these new substances from entering the market. 

The recommendations were handed over by Leadership Fiji Chairman, William Parkinson. 

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