Accessibility for People With Disabilities Today on Rabi Island Fiji
I had a conversation with my Banaban (1) aunty Boibe Erekana, who is a strong advocate for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) on Rabi Island (2), and everything she highlighted about current issues with PWDs confirmed my preconceived thoughts about the lack of environment, support and services to allow accessibility for this minority group.
1. Essential services - PWDs are still required to travel to Savusavu (3) over 81km away via sea and road transport, for banking, social welfare and other essential needs
2. Structural designs for buildings on the island do not support PWDs with accessibility
3. Transport system does not support mobility for PWDs
4. Education does not support PWDs
Beyond Rabi, the support for PWDs is far greater and evident. For example, in the Napuka Savusavu corridor, they have a PWDs vehicle that supports mobility of their people from accessing services including education. In urban areas, mobility facilities to access buildings enables PWDs to move around while resources also support them to go to school among others. This is an issue for equity for our people. Are we advocating enough for our PWDs?
1. Persons with disabilities have the right to the protection of the law against such interference, discrimination, accessibility or attacks among others.
2. Fiji as a state party shall protect the privacy of personal and promote health and rehabilitation information of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
Let us join hands to support and escalate the needs of our PWDs to the Fiji government so that they are supported.
We can ask for:
1. Development projects to address needs of our PWDs communities on Rabi
2. Opening of essential services such as small bank branches on Rabi so that they don't have to travel to Savusavu
3. Incorporating of PWDs friendly mobility access in structural buildings
4. Advocacy for transport of our PWD communities on Rabi
5. More wrap around welfare services and support
6. Macro policy influence to allow creation of unique policies fit for our context on Rabi and many more
21 April 2021
The Banaban people were forcibly removed from their homeland, Banaba (Ocean Island) by invading Japanese forces in 1942. During that time Banabans were sent to work in a Japanese labour camp in Kosrae, and nearby Nauru and Tarawa islands. The surviving 703 Banabans were gathered together on Tarawa by the British government in 1945 and told they were being sent to Rabi, Island Fiji over 2,200 kilometres away. The British had purchased the freehold island out of the Banabans own phosphate Royalty funds at the start of WWII. They arrived on Rabi on the 15 December 1942.
Itinterunga Rae Bainteiti
BA Social Work (Hons, Massey University, current), Cert Project Management (KIT) 2013- Dip Business Accounting (FNU) 2009- Her Majesty the Queen 2018 Point of Light Award for youth voluntary service.
Rae is of Banaban and Kiribati origins, raised and educated in Fiji throughout his childhood. His grandparents were forced to relocate to Rabi in Fiji from Banaba Island in 1945 after the British mined the island extensively for phosphate. His environmental, social justice work is linked to the history of his people and the degradation caused by mining.
He has extensive involvement in Local Government and NGOs, including Kiribati Local Government Association and the Kiribati Climate Action Network. He was a co-founder of several youth organisations, including Kiribati Against Corruption and the Kiribati National Youth Association of NGOs.
Rae is a passionate community and youth worker with interests in mental health, domestic violence, and social justice. During his studies in New Zealand, he interned at Mahu Vision Community Trust and Ember. He also co-founded the Kiribati Aotearoa Diaspora Directorate Charitable Trust in 2018 and the Auckland Banaban Christian Fellowship Support Hub in 2020.
Rae currently serves as a Board member of the Pacific Climate Action Network, Pacific Youth.