Donations directly support Fijian women

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Location(s): Koro Island, Fiji

Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Swinton with Joint Task Force 635 speaks to a Fijian woman on Koro Island, Fiji during Operation Fiji Assist. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Swinton with Joint Task Force 635 speaks to a Fijian woman on Koro Island, Fiji during Operation Fiji Assist.

Australian Defence Force and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade personnel attended a key leadership engagement in Nasau Village on Koro island, Fiji, on 18 March.

Conducted as part of Operation FIJI ASSIST 2016, the engagement delivered aid purchased using donations from Australian Defence Force personnel, deployed as part of the Australian whole-of-government response to a support request by the Fijian Government.

The aid was targeted at women and children and included items such as undergarments, nappies, sanitary products, cooking and eating utensils, school books and stationery.  

Royal Australian Navy Deputy Maritime Logistics Officer Lieutenant Michelle Rayner, who facilitated the fund raising, said personnel from HMAS Canberra, which had been the base for many of the Australian Defence contingent in the region, were pleased that the money raised was able to provide some basic necessities to women and children on Koro who have lost everything.  

“Everyone onboard Canberra was very keen to support the women on Koro by having an inter-departmental challenge to make donations,” Lieutenant Rayner said.

“Through donating, Canberra personnel offered their support to the people of Koro where it was much needed."

The engagement was organised by Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Swinton, Legal Officer and Gender Advisor. 

This was arranged as part of the implementation of Australia’s National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, Women Peace and Security in Australian Defence Force Operations. 

Lieutenant Commander Swinton said the role of the Gender Advisor on operations was very important. 

“My role is to advise the Commander on the integration of a gender perspective and consideration of the experiences and needs of women and girls, across a range of complex issues in the planning and execution of operations,” Lieutenant Commander Swinton said. 

Other efforts in Operation FIJI ASSIST 2016 as part of the UNSCR 1325 Women Peace and Security agenda have included the delivery of information to remote Fijian villages, and assisting the drafting of documentation concerning the protection of women against gender based violence.