A Regional Safeguarding Skills Building Workshop is currently underway in Nadi with the goal of promoting safer, more inclusive sports in the Pacific.
The event also offers a vital capacity-strengthening opportunity for Pacific safeguarding focal points in preparation for upcoming sporting events, such as the Pacific Games and the Paris Olympic Games.
In his opening remarks, Team Up’s Partnerships Manager, Andrew Lepani said the initiative underscores the importance of equal, safe, and inclusive sports and aims to create environments free from harm, violence, and discrimination for athletes, both boys and girls.
“It is about sending a strong message that everyone has the right to participate in sports without fear,” he said. “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.”
The Co-Chair of the ONOC Equity Commission and the IOC’s Safeguarding Working Group, Liz Dawson, highlighted the IOC’s efforts to prevent harassment and abuse in sports, including 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.”
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 sports and physical activities.”
Furthermore, the workshop acknowledges the additional barriers women and girls face in sports participation and seeks to provide better, safer, and more inclusive access for them throughout the Pacific.
Hosted by the Oceania Sport, Equality and Inclusive Communities Impact Network, the three-day event is supported by various key stakeholders, including the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), the Australian Government’s Team Up program, UN Women Fiji MCO, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The workshop’s participants include safeguarding focal points from Team Up sport for development programs, gender-based violence service providers, and National Olympic Committees in the Pacific.