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Government commits to combating domestic violence

     The Government has allocated $1.58 billion to assist victims of domestic violence and families in need in this financial year, an increase of 12.8% over 2007-08 and accounting for 4.6% of the total expenditure of the Social Welfare Department, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said today (November 25).

     Speaking at the 23rd Annual General Meeting of the Harmony House, Mr Cheung said the Government was committed to combating domestic violence by providing dedicated preventive and supportive services to  victims and families in need.

     "In the past few years, the Government has continuously increased allocation to enhance the related supportive services," he said.

     "These include increasing the number of social workers; strengthening telephone hotline services; providing more residential places and support at refuge centres for women; setting up more crisis intervention and support centres; mobilising the community sectors to build up 'social capital'; developing 'early intervention' services; stepping up training of frontline staff; and fostering family values through promotion and public education.

     "In the coming year, we will build on this foundation and further reinforce direct services and support which include increasing the manpower of the Family and Child Protective Services Units and the Clinical Psychology Units, further developing the batterer intervention programme, enhancing support provided by the refuge and crisis centres to women and children in need as well as those facing family crises, and continuing to strengthen public education.

     "We will, in particular, increase the number of social workers at the four refuge centres for women, strengthen supervision of and support for frontline staff and speed up the processing of admission applications,กจ he said.

     In view of the possible emotional and family problems arising from the impact of the recent global financial turmoil, additional funding of $1.2 million has been allocated to the Family Crisis Support Centre and the CEASE Crisis Centre for hiring extra staff to operate the Financial Crisis Emotional Support Hotline around the clock to provide counselling service for people in need.

     Turning to statutory protection, Mr Cheung pointed out that the amendments to the Domestic Violence Ordinance in June this year had largely expanded the scope of the ordinance from covering molestation between married couples and heterosexual cohabitants to former spouse, former cohabitants as well as immediate and extended family members.

     Under the amended ordinance, the court, in granting non-molestation orders, is empowered to require the abusers to attend anti-violence programmes to help them change their violent attitude and behaviour, he added.

     On the effectiveness of the amendments, he said, "The number of injunction orders granted by the courts has gone up from only 13 in the first seven months this year to seven in the two months since the amended ordinance came into effect in August. This clearly illustrates the effectiveness of the amended ordinance."

     Noting that the Government was committed to combating domestic violence through refining the relevant policies and measures, Mr Cheung urged all sectors of society to contribute towards the cause of preventing domestic violence and providing victims and their families with better support.

Ends/Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:01


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