25 January 2012

LGBTI sector equipped with PAIA skills

Keeping within its mandate to empower communities by supporting and creating a greater awareness of past and contemporary struggles for justice, SAHA has successfully trained Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) NGO's to use the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to access information.

Training on PAIA forms part of SAHA's programmatic work to target specific sectors, which were identified as being in dire need of ATI interventions in their daily struggles for freedom. The main aim of the training is to equip individuals within organisations with PAIA skills and expectantly they will transfer their skills to their constituents. And to further strengthen their advocacy work.
The LGBTI training targeted NGO's in Gauteng and Western Cape. The lists of represented NGO's includes; AmSHER, FEW, ISA, IAM, GALA, OUT, Gender Dynamix, Usizo, POWA, a representative group of the entire LGBTI sector.

LGBTI sector participating in a PAIA training workshop.
LGBTI sector representatives participating in a PAIA training workshop.

The training sessions were broken down into three sessions. The first session included; an introduction to freedom of information (FOI) environment, focus on public bodies, forms used, when to use the forms, costs involved and case studies and actual request made by participants. The second session featured; a recap of the first session, review of the released material, and focused on private bodies. The last session incorporated; a review of the previous two sessions, a look at internal appeals in the case of public bodies and procedures to follows in that of private bodies.

Over the period of three contact days, over five months, the groups (GP and WC) grew within the FOI environment. This was evident through the increased interest in the field and the increased confidence in putting through their requests in support of their work.

With results stemming from the responses received, the group was able to identify missing gaps to adequately address LGBTI maters. For instance requests made to the Department of Correctional Service, South African Police Service and Home Affairs, indicated an absence of policies and or procedures in addressing Transgender and Intersex issues. Prompting participants to come up with a resolution, to form working networks and create a pool of LGBTI knowledge and lobby for the creation of policies to address LGBTI issues.

Asked how they have benefitted from the training Sivu Tywabi said: "I am happy to have participated in the training I feel that I can do so much more... I feel empowered to defend my rights..."

SAHA will continue to keep in touch so as to lend further support were it is needed.

If you are interested in learning more about PAIA or Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP), email us or click here.