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Speech by SLW at the 59th Annual General Meeting of Hong Kong Family Welfare Society

     Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the 59th Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society today (November 27):

President Dr Eric Lee, Chairman Christopher Law, distinguished guests and fellow workers at the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society,


     I am pleased to join you at the 59th Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society.  Since its establishment in 1949, the Society has held steadfast to its creed - "For Family and Community" - and strived to provide a wide range of professional services to families in need.  I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Society for your invaluable contribution to welfare services in Hong Kong.

     The Society has always been a valued partner of the Government in the provision of various welfare services.  Indeed, its commitment to family and community is in line with the general thrust of our policy, which is also family-oriented.  This orientation is also reflected in the range of services provided.

Family Services

     With regard to family services, the Government has redeployed resources in the past few years to establish Integrated Family Service Centres all over the territory.  They are one-stop service centres that offer preventive, developmental and remedial services to families in need.  To assist vulnerable families that are unwilling to seek help, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) launched a Family Support Programme in 2007 to reach out to them through volunteers and professional social workers and connect them to appropriate support services.

     The Society is committed to the provision of integrated family services.  Of the 21 Integrated Family Service Centres operated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), five are run by the Society and serve a population of about 550,000.  As at the end of last June, the Integrated Family Service Centres under the Society had connected over 700 individuals or families to various community service networks.

     Apart from one-stop integrated family services, we also provide welfare services tailored for different family members, including children and the elderly, and help their families and kin to take care of them.

Child Care Services

     Take children as an example.  We all know that taking good care of children is a basic responsibility of parents.  But there are parents who, for reasons of work or other considerations, need child care services to take care of their children.  Therefore, we have subsidised NGOs to provide a wide array of child care services and have introduced greater flexibility to meet the varying needs of parents.  The Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project, a pilot programme, is a case in point.

     The Society has worked hand in hand with the Government in the provision of child care services.  Indeed, it pioneered the pilot projects for emergency and day foster care services for children in 1995 and 2003-08 respectively, which became models for similar services launched by the Government subsequently.

Elderly Services

     Family plays a critical role in elder care.  To promote "ageing in the community", which is our policy objective, we have launched a raft of measures to enable elders to enjoy their golden years in a familiar neighbourhood and under the care of their families and friends.  We also provide community care and support services for elders through NGOs, including meal delivery, personal care and rehabilitation exercise.  The Society's elder service units have been working closely with the Government to realise the objective of supporting elders to "age in the community".

Combating Domestic Violence

     The Government has always held that cherishing the family is a core value of our community and family harmony is the foundation of social harmony.  Nonetheless, domestic violence has become a rising concern in recent years.  Domestic violence may cause severe damage to the functions of a family as well as the physical and mental well-being of family members.  The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Ordinance 2008, which came into effect in August, has expanded the scope of the ordinance and enhanced protection to victims of domestic violence.  We plan to put forward another amendment bill within the current legislative session to introduce further amendments to the ordinance on the types of co-habitants.

     Prevention is better than cure.  Therefore, one of the most effective ways to prevent domestic violence is to change the violent attitude of abusers.  In this connection, the SWD implemented a Pilot Project on Batterer Intervention Programme between January 2006 and March 2008.  The Society also collaborated in the programme and developed a Peace Project that was targeted at milder spouse battering cases in the community.  The Peace Project provided very useful input for implementing the Batterer Intervention Programme.

     In the coming year, we will put in additional resources to strengthen support for victims of domestic violence.  Specifically, we will increase manpower, further develop the batterer intervention programme, enhance support for refuge centres and crisis centres and continue to strengthen public education.  I hope that the Society will continue to support us in these endeavours to curb domestic violence.


     Effectively functioning families are crucial for both individuals and families, particularly in the face of the financial tsunami that has impacted various sectors of our community to different extents.  For people in adversity, the role of the family in offering a heartwarming refuge of love and care away from the chilling winds of the financial crisis becomes particularly important.  Therefore, the Government will strive to strengthen the role of the family as such shelters.  We will ensure that our social welfare policies will strengthen, instead of undermining, family functions, and support, instead of supplanting, the role of the family.  We are keeping a close eye on the changing welfare needs of families in this economic downturn in order to draw up more comprehensive and diverse family services that meet the current needs of the community.  The contribution and dedication of the Society in this respect is very much appreciated.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Society again for your staunch support for our welfare policies.  And I wish the Society every success in its future endeavours in providing quality family welfare services to the people of Hong Kong.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, November 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:45


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