Raising Awareness

The International Committee on Seafarers Welfare (ICSW) has arranged a Piracy Awareness seminar for the maritime community in the Philippines on Tuesday 7 December followed by detailed practical workshops on Thursday 9 December.

The events have been generously sponsored by the ITF Seafarers Trust and are part of the industry-supported “Maritime Piracy – A Humanitarian Response” programme, and involve experts in trauma counselling accredited by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. The training will be provided by Dr. Marion Gibson and Mr. Colm Humphries from Respond Training.

The objective of the two events is to allow the participants to share their experiences and to learn from trauma experts how to gain a working knowledge of post-traumatic stress reactions and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, taking into account cultural issues, in particular in dealing with distressed family members in incidents which involve their family members. The workshops will involve the practical application of skills through role play and will be relevant to incidents such as accidents or death which can occur on board as well as acts of piracy.

ICSW Executive Director, Roger Harris, explained that:

“In critical incidents at sea the focus is, understandably, usually concentrated on the seafarer or seafarers directly affected – and some 500 seafarers are currently held hostage by pirates in ports of Somalia.

But all too often we forget the wives and families of these seafarers who can suffer from poor, or sometimes non-existent, information about what is being done to protect their loved ones or to secure their release.

There has not been adequate training for those who are the first point of contact with the families in these cases, explaining how best to provide the information in a manner that will not aggravate their concerns or, when necessary, how to break news of serious accidents or deaths involving their family members. This is the gap that the ICSW seminar and the workshops aim to close.”

The ICSW seminar, which will be Chaired by David Dearsley on behalf of ICSW, will involve speakers from the Department of Labor and from companies that have been involved in hijack incidents. Attendance, which is free of charge, is being co-ordinated through the Filipino Association of Mariners Employment (FAME).  The workshops, also co-ordinated by FAME, will involve a modest charge in order to ensure international accreditation of the certificates that will be issued.

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