Desperate mental health, substance abuse shortage

With 80 per cent of criminal cases involving alcohol, there is a great need for mental health and addiction clinicians to rehabilitate offenders from re-offending.

This was highlighted during a graduation ceremony for participants that took part in a Tutuga Taume Mental Health and Addictions training programme. 

The ceremony was held at the Salvation Army headquarters at Moto’otua on Friday. 

Five local participants from various non-governmental organisations received certificates after being part of the programme since last year.

One of the participants is a representative from the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A) under the probation and parole services, Julilly Ah Hao shared about her experience during the programme.

“I have learnt so much…80 per cent of criminal cases, domestic violence, burglary, theft and traffic offences involve alcohol,” she said.

She added that she will use the new knowledge and tools to help the community in any way she can.

“Our job, as probation officers, is to rehabilitate through our non-governmental organisations and our partnership with Teen Challenge, Salvation Army, and Samoa Victim Support to reduce re-offending.

“From this new knowledge and the tools which I will take and use it to help our community in any way I can."

She also mentioned that her colleagues that attended the course came up with a motto which is, “we learn, we apply, we share and teach." 

The Samoa Qualifications Authority (S.Q.A.) Chief Executive Officer, Leali'ifano Easter Manila–Silipa congratulated the graduates.

The lead trainer and Partnership Development Manager for Salvation Army, Natalie Senio acknowledged New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for funding the programme.

She told the graduates that, “it is our belief that the Tutuga Taume programme will enhance your future.”

“You are now better equipped to follow the plans that God has for you and that your mental health and addiction knowledge, skills and expertise will help others so that they too, can realise the future that God has for them.”

“We would also like to acknowledge the Samoa Qualification Authority (S.Q.A.), whose expertise and guidance ensured that we met best practice, along with providing endorsement for our programme.”

Mrs. Senio highlighted that the need for alcohol and drug services was going to be significant due to the number of referrals from court.

“The presence of any local qualified A&D Clinicians was virtually non-existent and furthermore the role was not yet recognised as a profession eligible for registration in Samoa, as no one had ever registered under the title before.”

She added that this became an opportunity to create a workforce development pipeline that would commence at a certificate level and go all the way through to post graduate study.

“We took what we knew from working with Pacific people in New Zealand and used it as a lens, to assist us to develop a programme that would be relevant, meaningful and culturally appropriate in practice in Samoa.

“It took approximately six months to research and build the programme that eventually would [...] take 390 hours to complete.

“We have a saying that ‘addiction is everyone’s business’ and so building local capacity and capability through the training programme, assists others such as the graduate organisations present to address mental health and addiction.”

Furthermore, “if not for full treatment, but to have the confidence and knowledge to recognise the presenting issue and provide early intervention, which can reduce the need for specialist services, such as what is provided by Salvation Army.”

“We also remember the former Regional Leaders, Lieutenant Colonels Rod and Jenny Carey, whose leadership was instrumental in the support and development of this programme.”

Graduates include: Susi Laufili and Vanessa Iloa from Goshen Trust; Leatuolo Mabel Toilolo from Teen Challenge; Christopher Joshua Vaifale from The Salvation Army; and Mrs. Ah Hao.  

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