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SLW visits 1823 Integrated Call Centre (with photo)

    The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, visited the 1823 Integrated Call Centre (ICC) this afternoon (April 8) to familiarise himself with the operation of the hotline service.

    Accompanied by the Head of the Efficiency Unit, Ms Kitty Choi, Mr Cheung toured the operation area and learnt at close quarters how the ICC team handled 1823 calls on social welfare and labour matters.

    The ICC was set up in July 2001 to provide a seamless and round-the-clock enquiry service to the public through the 1823 Citizen's Easy Link. At present, there are 20 participating departments, with the Social Welfare Department (SWD) being the latest to join in January this year.

    The SWD has recently upgraded its hotline system by revamping the call flow to channel calls on social security enquiries to ICC. As for calls in need of help, the ICC will transfer them through dedicated hotlines to the Departmental Hotline Service Unit (DHSU) of SWD.

    This has allowed social workers to handle more readily calls requiring counselling and other welfare assistance and provide more timely intervention service for individuals and families in crisis.

    Since the new initiative's full implementation in February this year, statistics show that more callers are using the enquiry service provided by ICC. At the same time, the number of voice mails left with DHSU has dropped by 26% as compared with the average monthly figure in 2006-07. 

    Mr Cheung said, "I am glad to see that the upgraded hotline system has rolled out smoothly and that initial statistics have suggested that social workers of DHSU are now able to focus more on helping callers requiring social workers' assistance or intervention."

    "No doubt, 1823 is providing much-needed, timely and effective relief for SWD's 2343 2255. It has also substantially enhanced our hotline service. I am most grateful for the Efficiency Unit's readiness, enthusiasm and unstinting co-operation in lending us a helping hand," he added.

    The strengthening of the SWD hotline service is part of the initiatives under the additional annual funding of some $40 million provided in the 2008/09 Budget to support victims of domestic violence.

    SWD has also allocated additional resources to further strengthen the capacity of the Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre to provide a back-up hotline service outside the duty hours of its social workers so as to provide timely assistance to those in need.

Ends/Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:14


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