The Department of Gender and Family Affairs within the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development and other government and non-government organizations launched the first Family Island Coordination Council (FICC) on 30th March 2023 in Dundas Town, Abaco. The purpose of the FICC is to focus on community-based partnerships to prevent gender-based violence in Family Island communities and to ensure that victims of gender-based violence receive professional support and clinical services needed to recover from such situations. FICC is a multi-sectoral coordinated approach to achieving an effective and integrated response to violence and to assist in rehabilitating perpetrators of abuse into becoming productive citizens.
The First Family Island Coordination Council meeting and installation ceremony was held under the theme “Family Islands U.N.I.T.E for a Safer Bahamas: Uniting – Neighbours –Igniting -Together – Empowering;” at Friendship Tabernacle Church in Dundas Town, Abaco. The Department of Gender and Family Affairs installed nine (10) persons from government agencies and Civil Society as Council Members namely: Ms. Jacquelyn Estevez, Former Chief Councilor, South Abaco, Pastor Cubell Davis, Victory Tabernacle Church, Superintendent of Police Geneice Barr, Royal Bahamas Police Force, Shantell Nioshie McDonald, Department of Social Services, Mrs. Walesia Ronnette McIntosh-Braynen, Manager Urban Renewal, Abaco, Mrs. Anistacia Seymour, Educator, Mrs. Velty Parker-Carey, Administrator Ministry of Health, Abaco, Mr. Augustine Williams, Upholster/Advocate, Abaco, Ms. Kristonnia Stubbs, Administrator Ministry of Health, Abaco and Ms. Carmen Williams, Manager BTC, Abaco.
The Honourable Obediah Wilchombe, Minister with responsibility for Social Services and Urban Development was represented by
Permanent Secretary Joel Lewis who gave the keynote address on his behalf at the meeting. PS Lewis told the audience that,
“This initiative is not a one-off, it is intended to touch the entire Bahamas as we seek to create a wrap-around, effective action plan
to prevent violence and abuse in our country. We must join hands to accelerate our efforts to save our communities. It still takes
a village to raise a child. Gender-based violence is rooted in inequalities, discrimination, and power imbalance.
It can happen in our homes, schools, and other institutions. We want to respond holistically to the complex challenges of violence that is so
detrimental to the livelihood of our people, to our health care institutions and our tourism product. If we stand still the well-being,
dignity and life of our people will be lost.” PS Lewis encouraged the Council Members to mobilize their community to foster
collective power, sustained engagement and focus on the root causes of gender-based violence.
Council Member Mrs. Velty Parker-Carey moderated the ceremony and Pastor Cubell Davis of Victory Tabernacle Church brought
the opening prayer. Mr. Preston Cooper, Island Administrator welcomed the participants followed by brief remarks from the
Honourable Kirk Cornish, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, who applauded the efforts of the organizers
of the event and pledged his support for the initiative.
Retired Justice and chairperson for the Gender-Based Violence Task Force in 2013 Rubie Nottage, OIC of DGFA, FAS Melvelyn
Symonette, Gender Expert Elaine Sands, Former Magistrate Cleopatra Christie from The Bahamas Crisis Centre and Assistant
Superintendent of Police Geneice Barr gave remarks at the meeting.