Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Message delivered at the Zamboanga Central School and Special Education Centre

Visit to the Zamboanga Central School and Special Education Centre
Remarks by Ambassador Amanda Gorely
2 March 2018 

  • Ms Aide Coyme of the Department of Education Zamboanga City School Divisions Office
  • Dr Edsel Francisco, and Teachers and Students of the Zamboanga City Central School and Special Education Centre
  • Mr Kirby Hassan and the Members of the Student Government
  • Dr Steven Muncy and the CFSI Team
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • And the dancers earlier, well done.

I would like to say g’day from Australia!

We just came from Vale Vista in Barangay Kasanyangan, one of the resettlement sites that hosted permanent houses for the Zamboanga Recovery Project. I am glad to have visited the site and participated in the ceremonial handover of housing, livelihood and protection assistance to affected families, and support to host communities. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the families and it was great to hear their stories on how the housing and livelihood assistance are helping them recover their lives and dignity. It was difficult for you, and your family might have been affected.

In addition to displacing thousands of families, the crisis in 2013 affected and damaged several schools, including your school, which was used as an evacuation centre for displaced children and families for several months.

As a friend, Australia will continue to be a responsive neighbor and stands ready to support the Philippines and the Filipino people, especially in times of disasters and emergencies.

And we would like to provide assistance to restore the dignity of the displaced population. From 2014 to 2017, Australia implemented the Zamboanga Recovery Project in partnership with the Community and Family Services International, Zamboanga City Government, Catholic Relief Services, World Health Organization, and with support from other partners like the Department of Education.

The goal was to help rebuild the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable families affected who are by the crisis. The project provided permanent housing to 400 family beneficiaries; livelihood, psychosocial and protection assistance to 1,049 families; enhanced health and disease surveillance; and various support to host communities.

The project also extended assistance to schools like this that was used as evacuation centres during the crisis. Under the project, six child development centres were constructed and 16 schools were rehabilitated benefiting 41,512 day-care students in Zamboanga City.

I understand the Zamboanga City Central School and Special Education Center was supported by the project through the rehabilitation of the water system including the installation of a water tank, latrines and water faucets; and the provision of air conditioning units and chairs in the computer room.

I am really excited to visit you today and see how these facilities and equipment are helping you. I hope the water system will continue to provide you with water, and the equipment with a better environment to support your learning.

I thought I will end through a guessing game. What Australian animal is this? (skipped like a kangaroo).

Thank you and good afternoon.