Members of the House of Parliament introduced to the Family Law Bill – 18 & 19 March 2015
On 18 and 19 March, Parliament held a special session so that national MPs could participate in an information workshop to learn about the key results of the Cook Islands Ministry of Health’s Survey on Domestic Violence and the Family Law Bill. The workshop allowed members to ask questions about the Bill, and to understand the implications of each of its sections, before it is formally debated in the House.
The first day’s session was hosted by Minister Mark Brown. In the first part of the day, Rongo File and staff of the Cook Islands Family Welfare Association introduced the results of the Family Health and Safety Survey which was conducted over the whole of the Cook Islands with the help of the Cook Islands National Council of Women. In support of the discussion about the Survey were the Secretary of Health, Elizabeth Iro, and the National Council of Women’s rep, Taputu Mariri. After morning tea, the personnel changed to begin discussions about the Family Law Bill, involving Bredina Drollet (Secretary of Internal Affairs), Tingika Elikana (Secretary of Justice) and Katherine Evans (Crown Law).
The second day’s session was hosted by Minister Of Internal Affairs and Health, Nandie Glassie and concentrated on The Family Law Bill. Crown Law presented and discussed the contents of each section with members who asked a host of questions to clarify issues for themselves regarding this new legislation. The Family Law Bill focuses on children, women and families involved in domestic violence incidents, family separations and abuse. The Ministry of Internal Affairs will administer the Bill when it is passed by Parliament.
MEETING OF THE ELIMINATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN TASKFORCE TEAM – 25 February, 2015.
The first meeting of the VAW Taskforce gathered together a number of stakeholder groups to meet and discuss the sixth pillar of the Cook Islands National Gender Equality Policy which is to do with Eliminating Violence Against Women. The initial meeting was mainly to find out what the role of the taskforce will be, in light of the formation of the National Steering Committee which will oversee the six taskforces which will each address the gender equality issues within their taskforces area of responsibility. They are directed to first plan a five year strategy, and an annual workplan to be presented at the next meeting of the National Steering Committee (planned for August). The VAW taskforce has first to nominate a lead organisation to coordinate the role of government and NGO organisations to work towards the elimination of domestic violence in our communities. This issue has been supported by the results of the Ministry of Health’s recent survey which was undertaken across the Cook Islands.
MEETING OF THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN PLANNING GROUP – 28 August 2014
Eliminating Violence Stakeholder Meeting (powerpoint)
Attendees: Maureen Hilyard (Gender Project Coordinator), Maara Tetava (Commissioner of Police), Teaukura Rakei, Matapo Makara (Police) Tingika Elikana (Secretary of Justice), Lynsay Rongokea-Francis (SIF), Taputu Mariri (NCW), Nani Samuela (PTI), Pat Farr (Disability Council)
a. Improve data collection and analysis on domestic/gender-based violence and put in place data dissemination
Action 1 : Statistics to take the lead in this activity and to involve all relevant Ministries Action 2: Police and Justice agree to the Statistics Department investigating their databases to enable gender data to be downloaded and analysed
b. Establish a coordination mechanism for addressing VAW
Action 3: GADD to take the lead in this activity and to ensure that all relevant Ministries are informed about the process
Action 4: MH to check if there is a Cabinet Minute for the creation of a Steering Committee for the National Gender Policy (2011) This will cover the Gender Project.
c. Increase capacity of Police Officers to support victims by developing a clear administrative process
Action 5: The Police will take the lead in this objective
Action 6: On-going developments within the Police have ensured a more robust administrative process. Appropriate resources are in place to deal with DV situations. The Commissioner will provide another objective to support the objectives of current community pilot projects that the Police are developing to support DV and which could be supported by the Gender Project.
Action 7: The Police are to enable and ensure that inputs of other associated Ministries are smoothly incorporated into their processes
d. Further develop services to accompany the victims/survivors and to support their recovery – notably by increasing resources to service providers and strengthen their capacity.
Action 8: PTI is to reword this objective in order to more appropriately reflect what is needed to strengthen community counselling and recovery services.
Action 9: Health is to take the lead of this objective and to work with community organisations to develop strategies that will build capacity and strengthen the services that can support DV victims and the short term, medium term and long term
e. Provide free legal support
Action 10: Justice will take the lead on this objective
Action 11: Justice will negotiate further with The Law Society and the Minister of Justice to provide some sustainable system of legal support for victims as they cope with the impacts of a DV situation