Inappropriate and Appropriate Models
Rebuffed by its Australian and NZ mentors, the Fiji Government has "Looked North" for new friends and development partners. This has led to visits by officials and ordinary people to countries such as India, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia, and the transfer of some technologies and models more appropriate to Fiji. Australia and NZ have played important roles in Fiji's development and it is to be hoped they will continue to do so for many years to come, but today's partial standoff has opened Fijian eyes to other models.
One non-agricultural example is the Yellow Ribbon programme based on a model developed in
Singapore. The project was conceived out of the need to offer forgiveness and a second chance to
Into its fourth year in Fiji, many rehabilitating ex-offenders, who wish to make a fresh start on
their release, often face an uphill battle. In their attempts to lead normal lives they often face obstacles all along the way, because of the stigma associated with their former status.
Something of the struggle was conveyed by an emotional Cuvu native from Nadroga Rusiate Rabalabala when he spoke of how being part of the Yellow Ribbon programme had changed the perception of his family and friends towards ex-offenders.
Mr Rabalabala served ten years in correction facilities but now he is a successful example of
how the Yellow Ribbon programme has helped him to become a better person.
“I had finished serving my term in 1997. During that time the stigma in society was powerful
because people used to victimize us, so in turn most re-offended just to get into prison because
they felt accepted,” he said.
But since the launch of the Yellow Ribbon project, the situation has changed the perception
of the general public towards ex-offenders.
“I want to thank the Government and Fiji Corrections Services for initiating such projects so that we still have a place in our own home, communities and country."
Fiji Corrections Services Commissioner Colonel Iferemi Vasu said, “the launch of the project in
the Western division is important because this was a phase of re-integration into the community”.
“This is the way forward for the Fijian Government and Fiji Corrections Services ensures
that rehabilitation for inmates continues when they are released from prisons and taken back to
their homes,” he said. Colonel Vasu urged all community leaders to be part of this campaign and so help our children who have offended to be part of the community.
-- Crosbie Walsh