Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, today (July 13) at the Community Dinner of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups:
Rosanna, Members of the Federation, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be invited to attend this Dinner to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. And I would like to congratulate the Federation on its remarkable achievements in serving the young people of Hong Kong, during this period. As Hong Kong has grown and developed - so has the Federation.
Since its formation by George Stokes in 1960, the Federation has grown from setting up youth centres in public housing estates to providing a comprehensive range of youth services, including children and youth centres, school social work service, outreach service, integrated teams, a youth hotline and extensive research on youth issues. With 66 individual service units and receiving an annual subvention of $133 million, the Federation is today one of the largest and most distinguished non-governmental organizations serving young people in Hong Kong.
The population aged 24 and below stands at 2 million, accounting for almost 30% of our total population. These youngsters are the future "owners" of our society. Both the Government and the community attach much importance to helping them to cope with the pressures of modern day life in order become mature, responsible and contributing members of our society.
The readiness of the Federation to adopt innovative modes of service in response to changing community needs is particularly commendable. Examples of the Federation's efforts to provide innovative services include the "Detached Work" project in its early days and the Hong Kong Leadership Institute in recent years.
As Rosanna has always said, the staff are the Federation's most valuable resource and she is rightly proud of the consistently high quality of their work. The impressive achievements of the Federation would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of its staff.
I should now like to turn briefly to sharing with you some of our initial thoughts on the future direction, objectives and strategies of our youth welfare policies. No one can deny that our society is now undergoing significant and profound changes. As such, it is time that our policies and services evolve to meet this new environment and the changing needs of our young people. Addressing young people's needs requires the co-operation and hard work of everyone - the community, the Government, the young people themselves, service providers, the welfare sector, the professional bodies and the private sector. All need to work towards a shared vision, and the same principles and objectives to guide our future action, and to determine priorities.
Once the vision and mission, strategic directions, policy objectives, key result areas and specific targets have been identified, we will need to translate these into individual programme plans taking account of district profiles and discussions with all stakeholders, including the young people themselves.
As part of this process, we envisage that a number of new approaches will gradually gain momentum, including -
(a) a needs-centred approach as the basis of programme and facility planning;
(b) enhanced integration of services and interface of service units;
(c) emphasis on outcome-focused assessment; and
(d) a greater emphasis will be placed on participation, transparency, accountability, innovation and variety.
In the youth welfare policy area, advice on a number of fundamental issues is required in order to formulate this blueprint -
(a) what are the needs of our young people? and how are such needs to be assessed?
(b) what are the services required by our young people? how should they be provided and by whom? and how is the effectiveness of such services to be assessed?
I hope that an open debate in the community will help us to address these issues and guide us to develop our services to meet the needs of our young people in the 21st Century. The Administration needs your input and is committed to working alongside the Sector in this area. I am sure that with its rich experience, the Federation will be able to contribute towards this important exercise.
In closing, may I once again congratulate the Federation on its fine achievements over the past 40 years and wish the Federation every success in its future endeavours. I wish you all a most enjoyable evening.
END/Thursday, July 13, 2000