Cheryl Brown-Irava, the acting Head of Mission at the High Commission, tells Bruce Hill her staff are on standby to help any Fiji citizens who lose vital documents or need to let their families in Fiji know they're okay.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Cheryl Brown-Irava, the acting Head of Mission at the Fiji High Commission in Canberra
BROWN-IRAVA: So far we haven't had any reports of any negative incidents. Certainly we've put the message out to our community members in affected areas, but so far we haven't had any negative feedback.
HILL: What kind of assistance can the Fiji High Commission offer Fiji citizens who are caught up in these floods in Queensland and northern New South Wales?
BROWN-IRAVA: Well the Fijian citizens who are resident in affected areas of Queensland, the Fiji government through the High Commission will be able to assist with document replacement services, including passports, births, deaths and marriage certificates, as well as the issuance of emergency travel documents. All affected Fiji citizens are urged to register with the Fiji High Commission in Canberra just for the purpose of informing concerned relatives in Fiji on the state of their wellbeing. That number would be: 02 6260 5115, and also to visit our website, www.fijihighcomm.com.
HILL: Those documents can often be lost in floods, and they're very important, birth certificates, passports, identity things, so this sort of service will be very important if people have lost those wouldn't they?
BROWN-IRAVA: Yes, yes, we've noticed from the 2011 floods that those were the measures of assistance that were required from our former Fiji citizens.
HILL: How many Fiji citizens are in the area? I know there's a substantial Fiji community in Ipswich for example?
BROWN-IRAVA: Yes Bruce, we estimate up to 18-thousand first and second generation Australian citizens who are of Fijian descent reside in Queensland. And in the affected areas up to around 10-thousand.
HILL: Well that's quite a number. Tell me when Fiji citizens overseas get into a bit of trouble, do you sometimes get requests for assistance that you can't quite meet, are people's expectations sometimes quite high of what diplomats can do and you can't always do everything can you?
BROWN-IRAVA: Absolutely, we have in various instances faced those problems with expectations that we cannot meet. However the Fiji High Commission remains committed to assisting wherever possible. So we do encourage our people, do contact us and we'll see how we can work things out, what measures of assistance we can help with.
HILL: What about getting messages to their families back home in Fiji? Is that something you can help with?
BROWN-IRAVA: Yes absolutely, that's why I said if they can contact us to register with the High Commission, we can certainly do our very best to get in touch with relatives and family members back home to let them know of their welfare.
HILL: With these fairly devastating floods in Queensland and northern New South Wales, has the Fiji High Commission in Canberra been in touch with any of the emergency services in the area to sort of give them your information so they can pass it on to Fiji citizens?
BROWN-IRAVA: Yes absolutely, the High Commission has made contact with the Queensland SES to inform them of the availability of assistance any Fiji citizen who may be affected should the need arise. Yes we do have quite a good relationship with SES. I'd also like to take this opportunity if I may Bruce to just commend the SES for their sterling efforts in these very trying times, the Queensland SES crew and also the Australian volunteers who are out there helping.