PIANZEA, DFAT and the AEC have done it again!
Pacific Island, New Zealand and Australia Electoral Administrator’s (PIANZEA) Network, Department of Foreign Affairs and Training (DFAT) and the Australian Electoral Commission have done it again!
Two consecutive week-long combined Civic Education and Media and Elections modular workshops were conducted in September 2014, in Apia, Samoa for participants from PIANZEA member countries, funded by Australian Aid. The Office of the Electoral Commission of Samoa were gracious hosts who supported the workshops with a depth of hospitality only the Pacific can deliver! This generosity was greatly appreciated by all facilitators and participants.
These workshops form part of a multi-year program of BRIDGE being conducted across the Pacific. The long-term objective of the program is to strengthen the capacity of the electoral management bodies of the Pacific so they can continue to conduct credible and effective elections in a transparent, democratic environment. These workshops also provided opportunities for five BRIDGE PIANZEA facilitators to gain further experience in planning, observing and presenting BRIDGE.
Participants attending the first workshop were from Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu and for the second workshop Cook Islands, Niue, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tuvalu and the host country, Samoa.
The workshops were officially opened by the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration,
Her Excellency Fiame Naomi Mataafa and the Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sue Langford.
The workshops were facilitated by Cate Thompson (AEC), Regina Lunge (PNG), Michelle Aisake (Cook Islands), Rine Ueara (Kiribati), Esther Pavihi (Niue) and Lusavaina Temese Isara (Samoa). Esther and Lusavaina were accredited as BRIDGE Workshop Facilitators in the course of the workshops – congratulations Esther and Lusavaina! Administration for the workshops was provided by Annette Arton from the BRIDGE Office and her valuable support and hard work are acknowledged – thanks Annette.
The workshops explored many aspects of Civic Education and Media and Elections in the Pacific. There was a great deal of appreciation from participants for opportunities to work with counterparts across the Pacific, but also thankfulness for the chance to work with colleagues from home countries to consider and plan for benefits from the positive development of media relationships and the implementation of civic education programs in the future across the electoral cycle.
One of the facilitators made the comment: “I am personally passionate about best practice in Governance and the principles of Democracy and free and fair elections and I am also passionate about learning and sharing of skills and knowledge amongst my peers and Pacific people. With BRIDGE, I’ve found another calling in my role as a public servant and one I hope to continue to deliver.”
Many positive responses from participants were rewarding; one participant commented: “I have noticed that the participants have gained confidence and now I find them very eager to make their presentations whereas at the beginning of the workshops all groups had to be called and encouraged to present their work – same for me! Even you facilitators showed lots of improvements and very good work!”
But our very favourite participant comment of the fortnight was: “I can’t find anywhere to sleep!” The BRIDGE energy and enthusiasm for collaborative work and inventive thinking worked its usual magic.