President of the Republic of Fiji


St John Head Office Monday,24th June, 2013
TOORAK 10.00a.m.

• The Chairman of the St John Association of Fiji, Mr. Sakeasi Waqanivavalagi
• Honourable Minister for Works, Captain (Navy) Timoci Natuva
• The Former Prime Minister, Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka
• Your Excellencies members of the Diplomatic Corps
• The Council Members
• The General-Secretary Mrs. Ema Bovoro
• Management Team, Staff and Volunteers of St Johns
• Distinguished Guests
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning, ni sa bula vinaka, asalam alaykum, namaskar.

I am greatly honoured to join you all this morning and I thank you very much for the welcome ceremony.

I am here in my capacity as the Patron of the St John Association of Fiji. For those of you who do not know, I have had a very close working relationship with the organization for well over five decades.

As Patron I will ensure that the principles behind the founding of the St John Association of Fiji will always mirror those of other like St Johns Association founded throughout the world.

In that connection I will also ensure, as well, that all its community-oriented work continue and are supported here in Fiji by all stakeholders and at the highest-level possible.

The support towards the St John Association, like any other organization that provide essential and extremely valuable medical and life-saving services, cannot be over-stated.

For the vast majority of the public, the St John Association is more popularly known for its ambulance services, often being the first respondent to cases requiring urgent and immediate medical attention. Due to the nature of its calling, the highly-trained staff of St John provides the first-line of assistance to those in need of medical care before whisking them in ambulances to the nearest or most appropriate medical facility.

This scenario is repeated time and again, and daily, not only here in Fiji but also in a number of other countries where the St John Associations are active, where they serve honourably and where they are respected.

Internationally, the St John Movement has had a distinguished historical record. The precepts of the St John Movement are contained in a royal charter which was formally adopted in 1888. The St John Association of Fiji was established in 1939, over 74 years ago.

We should be proud that after so many years, and having had to endure many challenges, the St John Association of Fiji is still standing and, is now making steady and steadfast progress.

There are of course many other equally important services that the St John Association provides such as first aid training for virtually all types of emergency scenarios; meaningfully engaging the youth and younger members of society through the youth and "iguana" development programmes; and coordinating a growing network of both professional volunteers and those who are willing to be an integral part of the association in serving the communities in which they live in.

All of the St John Association's activities are in-line with its motto of quote, "making a difference - the first to care," unquote, and its recently revised vision of, quote, "saving lives in the communities by increasing first aid awareness and training throughout Fiji to ensure that every family has a trained first aider by 2020." Unquote.

I am extremely pleased to note the developments that the St John Association of Fiji has made over the recent years. A close scrutiny of the Association will reveal that it has had its fair share of challenges both internally and externally. What is most important, however, is what the organization is doing now in order to make a difference in the lives of the people.

Internally, I have noted the significant improvements in the management of the Association over the past four years.

The Association has made a huge turn-around with the administration and management of its affairs including both in human and in financial resources. Through prudent, accountable and transparent management and a forward-looking approach on the part of the existing council members and senior staff, the association has been able to attain a respectable level of financial stability which has enabled it to continue its core services. This has also enabled the association to surpass some achievements of previous years in terms of revenue-generation, community outreach and development.

I note with much pleasure that the St John Association continues to complement government's efforts to provide a more defined and focused approach to providing ambulance services to the wider community through the introduction in 2010 of the national ambulance services decree.
There is, in my opinion, a lot of scope for the St John Association, and the other ambulance service providers, to harmonize their services to ultimately benefit the people.

I am also pleased to hear that the St John Association has re-established its links with the international community including the world head-office in London and the St John Association of New Zealand, as well as with other national Associations. With this recent transformation in the Association, I have little doubt that our international partners will be focusing greater attention towards the St Johns Association of Fiji. This can only auger well for the country as a whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, with these latest developments by the St John Association, I can say with a great degree of confidence that fiji is very fortunate to have the services of the current and long-serving Chairman of the Association, Mr. Sakeasi Waqanivavalagi, whose services to Fiji in many capacities are an example that many people can follow. And i thank him on behalf of the c

i am also thankful as well as the council members, the general-secretary, the staff and the many volunteers who have all made personal sacrifices and contributed immensely to ensuring that the work of the association continues to have a significant, positive and lasting impact on our people.

From a macro perspective, the services provided by the St John Association are absolutely essential.

Indeed, from government's point of view, the provision of essential and unique services by organizations like the St John will greatly help in the overall efforts to ensuring that adequate medical services are made available at the hour of need for those in need.

Government largely through the Ministry of Health is making every effort to reach out to the people of Fiji, both in the urban and rural areas.

However, Government, as you are aware, cannot be expected to shoulder the responsibility of providing the immediate and absolutely necessary medical care to all its citizens on its own and in such a short span of time particularly with the limited resources at its disposal. This is where charitable organizations like the St John Association come to the fore. They are, in this regard, key stakeholders in the grand scheme of things. They are invaluable extensions of government's national effort to provide essential medical and life-saving services to the people of Fiji. Due consideration and support should, therefore, continue to be given to the St John Association.

In launching the St John week and the National Appeal, I urge all stakeholders in government, the private sector and the general public to come forward and support the work of the St John Association of Fij for the betterment of all our people.

I am indeed extremely proud to be the patron of the St John Association of Fiji, and I wish the association every success with all its endeavours.

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu, sukria, bahoot dhanyavaad.