Press Conference Speech
CCF CEO Sara Bulutani Mataitawakilai
Venue: CCF Conference Room
Time: 10.00 hrs
Good morning and it’s good to you see today.
This is my first time addressing the media since I joined the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) last week, and I know there will be many more to follow in the coming days, months and years.
Before I say what I have prepared for you, allow me to introduce myself.
I am Sara Bulutani Mataitawakilai from Dravuwalu Village, Totoya Island, Lau Province.
Prior to joining CCF, I was employed at the Cakaudrove Provincial Office as the Roko Tui Cakaudrove. CCF is not a new organisation to me. I was previously employed here as the Community Education Support Officer back in 2012. I was a primary school teacher from 2002 to 2007.
I have a Masters Degree in Governance, a Postgraduate Diploma in Governance and Certificate Teaching, and a Bachelor in Education from University of the South Pacific.
I am excited to be sharing in CCF’s vision of a nation in which Fiji’s people live together in equality, justice and peace, respecting the rule of law, under a constitution that guarantees democracy and human rights”
What can be expected from CCF under my leadership?
I expect leading CCF into the future will be a greatly challenging role, and indeed I have big shoes to fill with the departure of the former CEO. I am grateful to have the support of the board and the hard working staff here to steer the organisation to greater heights and achieve remarkable outcomes. Fiji is a young democracy and I believe CCF’s work in strengthening this democracy is fundamental.
As CEO of CCF I hope to continue educating local communities on strong leadership, good governance, human rights, democracy and multiculturalism, as this is the heart of CCF’s work and we are committed to empowering our communities .
In the coming years, CCF will work with community members in Bua, Navosa and Ba, who are actively participating in their own community governance and development,
practicing and demanding good leadership, and promoting multiculturalism. CCF strongly believes that good leadership and good governance practices are crucial to achieving development and maintaining peace in the communities and the nation as a whole.
The youth are an essential part of our nation and play a vital role as the future leaders of Fiji, and therefore those that will be responsible for the advancement of democracy and human rights. To support this process, CCF will work with young people in Bua, Navosa and Ba provinces and Peri-Urban areas in the Suva-Nausori corridor who are in key decision making positions and are active agents of change in promoting and practicing active citizenship and democracy.
The Universal Periodic Review took place in Geneva last year, and Fiji has moved into the next phase of implementing these human rights recommendations domestically. We hope to work with government in supporting this implementation, and continue to monitor UPR implementation in Fiji.
As promoters of multiculturalism in Fiji, CCF intends to work with wider civil society in compiling the Shadow Report on the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to be submitted to the international Committee next year.
CCF understands that in order to achieve our vision it is important that we work together. To this end, we hope to continue to critically engage with government members and ministries, as well as Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Committees to strengthen the legislative and institutional framework to better promote and protect human rights. CCF welcomes the appointment of the new members of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and we look forward to working closely with the Commission.
Our international partners and donors are an essential part of the work we do. We need the support of our donors, partners and the vibrant civil society network to enable us to efficiently carry out our work. In the days ahead I will be meeting donors, diplomatic missions, embassies, CSO’s to explore opportunities for collaboration.
What inspired you to join CCF?
I spent three years and 6 months at provincial level, interacting daily with the rural and remote communities and dealing with issues brought to the Provincial Council Office through our limited resources. What concerned me was that people had limited or no understanding of human rights and good governance. They struggled to raise problems to be addressed; or they became silent and worn out after raising issues with relevant authorities and getting limited, or no results.
I have personal conviction that CCF can do a lot more, by engaging with our communities and influential people and sectors that we can empower. CCF is in a good position to raise awareness to service providers at community, district, provincial and divisional level, while continuing its current advocacy role at policy level and maintaining its Vision.
Most issues faced by our communities, whether it is natural resources management, unsafe drinking water, domestic/boundary/traditional title disputes, no market access, voices of the disempowered not being heard in existing forums, the human rights impact of climate change and relocation, improper or poorly coordinated public consultations and lack of effective community leadership, to name a few; all these are human rights and good governance issues. These issues are also one of the reasons that government, NGOs, Donors, Faith Based Organizations, and the private sectors, including generous and concerned individuals, bring human rights development into communities. Unfortunately a common perception amongst community members is that the two are foreign flowers-human rights development is seen as isolated from their needs and daily lives.
Another thing that inspired me to join CCF was the many encounters and experiences working with rural and remote communities. One of the many that I can pick out would be the lack of capacity building, awareness of all sorts of issues at grassroots communities. We critically need to empower, raise awareness and build the capacity of members of our communities, including youth, women and community based groups. Leadership and good governance training for community leaders, faith based leaders and traditional leaders are of critical important due to their influential position.
Our failure to address this as a nation has disempowered our people, leading to a failure to realize basic human rights of good governance and leadership. With the team at CCF, I hope to strengthen this and support Fijian communities in achieving their aspirations for developed, peaceful and healthy communities, and a better Fiji.