Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the official opening of the Salvation Army Tuen Mun East Integrated Service for Young People today (November 16):
Lieutenant-Colonel Southwell, Major Dooley, Mrs Kwok, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to officiate at today's opening ceremony of the Tuen Mun East Integrated Service for Young People operated by the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army has always been one of our key partners in providing services for young people. Today, the organisation operates a wide range of subvented youth services, including 5 Integrated Children and Youth Service Centres, 2 school social worker teams, as well as three Children and Youth Centres. Its valuable contribution to the development of the younger members of our society is widely recognised and appreciated by the Government and community at large.
Ensuring a conducive environment for young people to grow-up is one of our key directions within the welfare portfolio. In the past, youth services were provided by separate service units such as children and youth centres, or school social work teams or by outreach social workers. Each unit focused on tackling a specific problem which resulting in fragmentation and compartmentalisation of our services. A review in the mid-1990s recommended that to meet the changing needs of our young people more effectively and efficiently, an integrated and holistic approach in service delivery should be adopted. This review gave rise to the setting up of Integrated Children and Youth Service Centres, previously known as Integrated Teams.
This integrated approach has fundamentally transformed the delivery of our mainstream youth welfare services, and has enabled us to better promote the holistic development of young people. Today, it is the mainstream service delivery model. The number of Integrated Children and Youth Service Centres has increased over the years from 10 in 1994-95, to 115 today, with plans to form another 15 by April 2003. This would not have been possible, without the staunch support of welfare agencies such as yours. And I am most grateful.
But you will appreciate that we must move with the times, and strive to improve and strengthen our services. Against the tight fiscal position, we continue to inject new resources to launch new services or to improve existing services. In the 2001 Budget, the Financial Secretary announced a package of new initiatives to meet the changing needs of youth, such as strengthening services for young night drifters. In addition, the Lotteries Fund and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will together invest $400 million to modernize Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres, to enhance their appeal to young people.
Young people are the future of our society. About a quarter of our population is aged between 6 and 24 years. The Government is committed to promoting the development of young people and to help them tackle their problems. This goal can only be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of different disciplines including the welfare, education and health sectors, and also between the Government and the non-governmental sector. I am grateful to the Salvation Army for its extensive contribution and support on this front, and I look forward to your unfailing support in the future.
Thank you very much and may I wish this Centre every success in the future.
End/Saturday, November 16, 2002