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MDT conference focuses on culture, church, law working together to end violence

The Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) against Family Violence is hosting a two day conference beginning today, and it is being held at the Attorney General’s conference room. The conference theme is “Weaving the Foundation of our Families: Culture, Church & Law to End Family Violence”, says MDT Chairperson Mitzie Jessop Folau.

Folau says speakers from key groups — church, the law, and culture will be present.

MDT co-chair Ipu Lefiti said the objective of this conference is to provide an opportunity where these three powerful entities can come together for dialogue on their roles in their respective areas.

“The speakers or local experts will share their cultural and religious beliefs of the past and present” she said, while asking “Are they providing relief, protection or awareness avenues for victims of violence?

Lefiti said this conference is to stimulate knowledge and understanding on how the church, culture and law can unite with existing agencies to bring an end to family violence.

“This is one of many conferences that the MDT has been providing for professionals and para-professionals since 2010.” she stated.

“Through awareness, education and training reinforcement for first responders— immediate family members, counselors, teachers, clergy, social workers, public safety officers, NGO communities — advocating for victims of violence is strongly encouraged through zero-tolerance said Lefiti. Victims of violence include those who have suffered Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence, Elderly Abuse).

She added that the target audience for this conference are members of the Religious section/ Clergy, Senate, House of Representatives, Court, Attorney General’s Office, Dept of Education, NGO’s and interested community members.

“These are agencies that have the power to create policies and initiate or enhance laws that will protect our people and incarcerate or provide counseling and treatment for offenders”, said Lefiti.

MDT Chairperson Folau and Vice Chair Lefiti, who are devoted advocates for victims of family violence, have been working diligently with the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Human & Social Services, Department of Education, American Bar Association, LBJ-Social Services, Department of Youth & Women Affairs, Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, Military Family Life Counseling, Law Enforcement and independent victims advocates.

Lefiti said due to the lack of funding across the board to send staff off island for social and health issue conferences, MDT is able to provide exceptional holistic opportunities for the home- front first responders for continuous awareness.

The mission of the Multi-Disciplinary Response Team (MDRT) is dedicated to minimizing the trauma to victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault by creating protocols and policies that will unite various government agencies and non-governmental agencies in American Samoa in their effort to protect from, intervene, educate, investigate, and prosecute these types of crimes.

Folau said this conference is not open to the public, however they will not turn away anyone who wishes to be part of the cause.