Friday, 14 October 2022
Address by the Honorable Jone Usamate
Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources
At the Corrections Day Celebrations in Naboro, 14 October 2022
The Commissioner Fiji Correction Services;
Officers, Men and Women of the Correction Service
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
It is my pleasure to be here with you all today. This inaugural Corrections Day provided the perfect backdrop for today’s Medal Parade, and the re-commissioning tour of the refurbished Mess Hall Building, Kitchen and Emergency Control Unit Office as well.
A well-functioning corrections service is vital to the wellbeing and peace of mind of our people and the prosperity of the nation. Families in Fiji should sleep well at night knowing that our criminal justice system is designed entirely around their safety and security. That is our first and foremost priority.
As part of Government’s commitment to an inclusive, safe, and stable Fiji we have rigorously invested in the modernization of Fiji’s corrections and rehabilitation services. We are building a system that is both strong enough to deter and punish crime and that is compassionate enough to rehabilitate wrong-doers so they can re-enter society when their sentences complete.
It has been 148 years since the Service was first established in Levuka. Today, through sustained Government investment, your service now has correction centers in Suva, Naboro, Lautoka, Ba, Nasinu, Labasa, Taveuni and Levuka.
Under Government, we have planned a complete redesign of the Correction Services in Fiji, with the goal of transforming it into a more professional enterprise for the benefit of officers, inmates, families, and some of the most vulnerable in our communities. We have proved we can make these gains simultaneously.
Outside these walls, we introduced the now well-known Yellow Ribbon Program in 2008 – a nation-wide campaign solely focused on advocating for a second chance for ex-convicts and that supports their successful reintegration back into the community.
Following this, the Fiji Corrections Service launched its first Rehabilitation Policy in 2017 – cementing its primary role as rehabilitation. It takes a coordinated multi-sectoral effort – including faith-based organisations, non-government organizations, government departments and volunteers – to ensure the continued success of our Corrections reform. And, it is this collaboration and hard work that has led to recidivism rate in Fiji that is low and falling – something we should all be proud of.
I want to reiterate on this important occasion that my Government will always prioritize the development of a modern, responsive, world-standard corrections service, because like you, we are in the business of improving and transforming Fijian lives.
Whether that means providing free education to every child in Fiji or working to bring free digital TV to every single household; or whether it means paying private doctors all over the country so that every Fijian can access free healthcare – there is nothing that my Government will not do to secure the wellbeing and prosperity of our people.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as far as maintaining national security is concerned, it always gives me immeasurable pride to recognize the disciplined dedication of our service women and men.
They deserve recognition for the sacrifices they make and the principles that they uphold – without which Fiji would not be able to support such a strong judicial system.
It is an honour to have been able to present them with their medals today and I congratulate each of the distinguished officers once again.
Later in the programme, I believe I will also be presenting the various Skills Awards to officers who have demonstrated outstanding qualities in professionalism and competence.
To add to the momentous occasion, we have officially re-commissioned three capital projects: the refurbished mess hall and kitchen plus other associated works in office spaces; the ECU office and the newly constructed main gate – funded and built by your Government.
We have invested over $324,000 and I am certain the renovations will provide a much-improved working environment for personnel and a more convenient dining experience for officers.
The new kitchen should greatly improve the efficiency of kitchen hands and chefs in providing healthy meals and allow for better coordination of ration delivery following the upgrade of the Rations Office. Lastly, the newly constructed security gate allows for more robust security at the South Division – limiting risks and threats to the serving officers and inmates.
I don’t need to tell any of you here that your Government has your back –– these refurbishments are one of the many ways we have shown our longstanding commitment to this institution and to the women and men who make this important work happen.
I want to congratulate the entire Fiji Corrections Service family for their work in creating a better Corrections Service. Regardless of rank, are all equally important to our national effort to keep Fiji safe. You have the thanks of a grateful nation. Congratulations again. You have my best wishes for another successful year.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.