The Pacific region takes a significant step towards safer and more inclusive sport with the commencement of the Regional Safeguarding Skills Building Workshop, hosted by the Oceania Sport, Equality and Inclusive Communities Impact Network.
The Impact Network is a collective of committed stakeholders who share a common vision of promoting gender equality, inclusion, and safety in and through sports in the Pacific region, and is initiated by the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), through its Equity Commission, the Australian Government’s sport for development program Team Up, the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through Olympism365 and Olympic Solidarity.
The three-day workshop officially began today at the Novotel Nadi Hotel in Fiji and is set to be a transformative event for sport in the Pacific. The opening ceremony was graced by distinguished guests, including Team Up’s Partnerships Manager, Andrew Lepani; the Co-Chair of the ONOC Equity Commission, Liz Dawson; and UN Women Fiji MCO Representative, Delphine Serumaga as well as IOC Safe Sport Senior Project Manager, Gloria Viseras.
UN Women Fiji MCO’s support is through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women (Pacific Partnership), funded primarily by the European Union, and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and UN Women.
Participants in the workshop include safeguarding focal points from partners of the Australian Government-funded Team Up sport for development programs across the Pacific; gender-based violence front-line service providers; as well as various National Olympic Committees in the region. Their presence underscores the commitment of the region to safeguarding in sport and to strengthening capacity to ensure safety and inclusivity.
In his opening remarks, Team Up’s Partnerships Manager, Andrew Lepani, said: “Our shared commitment to equal, safe, and inclusive sport is what binds us together today. Safeguarding is not just a concept; it is an imperative. It is about ensuring that across the Pacific, both boys and girls, our future Olympians, and Paralympians can pursue their dreams in environments free from harm, violence and discrimination. It is about sending a strong message that everyone has the right to participate in sports without fear. The Australian Government, through initiatives like Team Up and PacificAus Sports, has been providing broader support to sports in the Pacific region. We understand the transformative power of sports, the need for inclusivity and safety measures in sports, and we are committed to harnessing sports for social change.”
Safeguarding in sports is at the forefront of the Impact Network's mission. By working together, these organisations aim to support the development of safeguarding systems and plans in each Pacific nation, bridging the gap between major Games and benefiting the entire sporting ecosystem.
Speaking on behalf of the Olympic Movement, Co-Chair of the ONOC Equity Commission and member of the IOC’s Safeguarding Working Group Liz Dawson, said: “As part of the IOC’s efforts, to strengthen the prevention and appropriate response to harassment and abuse in sport at the local level, the IOC announced in March 2023 the creation of a 10 million fund per Olympiad. A working group was established chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan with the mandate to consider the best approach to establishing independent safeguarding systems and structures at the national level, which will ensure that resources are directed to where they are most needed to support athletes and build safeguarding capacity in sports organisations.”
“We know that women and girls who want to participate in sport have more barriers to overcome. This means it is harder for them to access the resources and networks they need to be safe and healthy. We’re delighted that one of the many fantastic outcomes of the Safeguarding Workshop, and the initiatives that will follow, will be better, safer and more inclusive access for women and girls to play and be involved with sport throughout the Pacific.”
Additionally, the workshop serves as a vital capacity-strengthening opportunity for Pacific safeguarding focal points in preparation for the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands later this year. It is also timely as it prepares the Pacific nations for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, where each participating country has been given an allocation for a safeguarding focal point in their delegation.
“In welcoming the participants, UN Women Fiji MCO Representative, Delphine Serumaga, said: “The Pacific has some of the highest rates of violence against women and girls, and UN Women, through the Pacific Partnership, has been collaborating closely with sporting partners for the past five years to address it, recognising the power that sports has in the region to influence transformational change. We are pleased to be part of the core membership of the Impact Network and work together to forward prioritising fairness, inclusion, and non-discrimination to ensure women and girls in all their diversity can engage in safe, inclusive, accessible sport and physical activities”.
This workshop marks a pivotal moment in the journey towards safer, more inclusive, and gender-equal sport in the Pacific region. By working collaboratively and synergistically, these organisations are laying the foundation for a brighter and safer future for sports.
About The Oceania Sport, Equality and Inclusive Communities Impact Network: The Oceania Sport, Equality and Inclusive Communities Impact Network is a group of organisations which share a commitment to promoting equality and inclusion in, and through sport, and ending violence against women and girls in the Pacific and is initiated by the Oceania National Olympic Committees through its Equity Commission, the Australian Government’s sport for development program Team Up, the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office and the International Olympic Committee through Olympism365 and Olympic Solidarity. The Impact Network is collaborating with the aim of ensuring more women, girls and communities can access the benefits of sport, that more sport organisations are safe and inclusive, and that policies, institutions and networks in the region support and celebrate gender equal, inclusive and safe sport.
About Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and the ONOC Equity Commission: Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations within the Olympic Movement. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members.
The Equity Commission Oceania (ECO), formerly the Women and Sport Commission (WASO), was established in April 2004 to promote and coordinate the involvement of women in sport across the Oceania region. The Commission works with the vision to see ‘women and girls empowered through sport’.
About Team Up: Team Up is the Australian Government’s sport for development program in the Asia-Pacific. With more than 60 partners across seven Pacific Island countries, our programs are specifically designed to provide all people, regardless of gender or ability, the opportunity to realise their full potential through sport.
About UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) and the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership): The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.
About the International Olympic Committee (IOC): The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 4.2 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
About Olympism365: Olympism365 is the IOC’s strategy aimed at strengthening the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN’s SDGs, which it achieves by collaborating with a range of partners inside and outside the Olympic Movement. The themes and priority areas for Olympism365 reflect the role that sport and Olympism in society can play for the SDGs by contributing to creating healthier and more active communities, more equitable, safer and inclusive communities, peacebuilding and education and livelihoods.
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Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members.
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