Working together to improve seafarers' welfare was at the heart of the South East Asia (SEA) Regional Assessment Meeting, which took place 2-3 October 2012 in Bali.
The meeting brought together over 40 delegates from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam with observers from New Zealand, Norway, and the UK to review and evaluate the last four years of the programme – with a view to planning the next stages.
Partners involved, including welfare organisations, port authorities, ship owners, trade unions, national governments and NGOs, highlighted the benefits of increased regional and national cooperation enabled by the programme - such as sharing good practice and learning, and joint work to address challenges facing seafarers. It was clear that the programme had created opportunities for increased advocacy on the practical implementation of ILO instruments on seafarers' welfare, and progress had been made in setting up National Seafarers' Welfare Boards and Port Welfare Committees. However, it was recognised that further work was needed to build relationships with key stakeholders.
Training received by partners, including ship visiting, centre management, IT and in trauma was rated highly, and new areas for training were identified including on the Maritime Labour Convention (2006) and on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. As a result of the programme, ship visiting had increased significantly, and it was agreed that the next stage of the programme would help ensure this was as effective as it could be. It was also agreed that the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is posing real challenges for ship visitors to access ships and for seafarers to come ashore to benefit from exiting services – and that this should be an area for increased future advocacy.
The changing context of the shipping industry prompted a hearty debate about the kinds of services needed by seafarers and the need to adapt to this changing context. This also related to services and information on health and fitness, and the need to build on the progress made to improve the physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being of seafarers.
Delegates showed a clear commitment to continue working together to improve seafarers' welfare and a presentation from programme evaluator Rod Macleod from Intrac, enabled partners to reflect on ways to deliver improved services, and a strengthened, sustainable programme.
The Assessment Meeting was followed by a meeting on 4 October to discuss possible future work on fishers with the ITF.
The SEA Regional Assessment Meeting and Fishers Meeting was organised by the ICSW Regional Welfare Committee, and supported by the ITF Seafarers' Trust.