This week, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) in partnership with the Government of Samoa through the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (MPMC) and the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC), hosted a three-day Workshop for Government officials on ‘National Disasters and COVID-19 Communications.’
The purpose was to strengthen communications and partnership between Government Agencies in the coordination of national emergency responses in times of disasters, as well as encouraging and improving its engagement with media and the public.
During the opening ceremony, the Australian High Commission to Samoa – H.E. Sara Moriarty put emphasis on the importance of communication between the media, government agencies, first responders and private sector.
“…for those managing Government responses to disasters, the disaster is the focus, and ensuring public trust and confidence in that response is crucial. For the media, disasters are a type of news, one of many. First responders are authorities, whether it be fire, police, or government bureaucrats, who must be criticized just like any other. These two sides need to understand the other’s perspectives and to develop a system of working together.” Said Ms. Sara Moriarty.
The same message was echoed by the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee (DAC) Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo.
“Effective Communication is essential when managing any Emergency. One of the most vital parts of any highly efficient disaster response, is effective information exchange between the National Emergency Operation Centre, Response Agencies and those impacted by the disaster or emergency event, as well as the media and the general public.”
Agafili further reiterated that it is important to understand the process of producing reliable communication on various platforms, timely information gathering as well as the dissemination of information to the public including media.
More than forty Government officials participated in activities throughout the workshop aimed at supporting communication officers to improve the quality of information being shared by Government Agencies and stakeholders on COVID-19 and National Disasters.