Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (13)

Supporting the Elderly

114. Strengthening elderly care is one of our core areas in building a caring community.  To encourage our senior citizens to lead an enriched life, the Elderly Commission has tried, in the form of "cross-sectoral collaboration and inter-generational integration", to encourage self-help and mutual help among elders at the community level through the "Neighbourhood Active Ageing Project" in the past two years.  The project facilitates the establishment of neighbourhood support networks between the elderly and local volunteers, enabling elders to become a new driving force in the community.  I fully support this meaningful project, and will allocate an additional provision of $5 million in the next financial year to establish new networks in each district.

115. Research shows that learning has positive effect on elders' physical and mental well-being.  The Elder Academy Scheme promoted by the Elderly Commission has been extended to seven tertiary institutions and 78 primary and secondary schools.  They serve as an effective platform to promote lifelong learning through inter-generational interaction between the elderly and students.  I propose to establish an Elder Academy Development Foundation, co-sponsored by the Government and various sectors, to ensure the sustainable development of this scheme.  To this end, I will allocate $10 million.  I believe that the Chinese tradition of "education for all" should be broadened to "education for all ages".

116. We are in the digital era.  We must not overlook the needs of the elderly on this front.  The Government will co-ordinate the setting up of a dedicated portal for the elderly in the coming year to provide one-stop information service on elderly services and the silver hair market.  Through this new portal and various computer courses offered by the Elder Academies, the elderly will enhance their computer knowledge and their ability to use digital services, expanding their circles of life through the Internet.

117. We will provide additional recurrent funding of about $37 million to residential care homes taking care of infirm elders and those with dementia.  In addition, I will increase recurrent funding by about $55 million to provide a total of 650 additional subsidised residential care places through the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme and two new contract homes.


118. The Government attaches great importance to meeting the learning needs of women at the grassroots level.  In 2004 the Women's Commission launched the Capacity Building Mileage Programme to encourage women of different backgrounds and educational levels to pursue lifelong learning and develop a positive mindset and outlook on life.  Since the launch of the programme, the number of enrolments has exceeded 28,000, while large audiences have been reached through radio programmes.  I will allocate $20 million in the coming three years to expand the programme and provide fee remissions to women with financial difficulty so as to encourage more women to pursue continuous learning and self-development.

Support to Persons with Disabilities

119. I will provide additional recurrent funding of about $19 million to enhance the care for persons with disabilities and provide the necessary training, including the provision of 156 additional residential places, 30 additional day training or vocational rehabilitation service places and 54 additional pre-school rehabilitation service places.  To strengthen transport services for persons with disabilities, I will also provide additional funding of about $7.7 million to increase the number of Rehabuses to 115 by acquiring six new buses and replacing four old ones.

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

120. I understand that some families face great pressure as a result of the economic downturn.  To further support families in need and victims of domestic violence, I will provide additional recurrent funding of about $25 million to increase the number of social workers and clinical psychologists dealing with domestic violence cases.  We will also further develop batterer intervention programmes and strengthen support for crisis centres and refuge centres for women.

Rehabilitation Services

121. To support the enhanced psychiatric outpatient, rehabilitation and oncology services given by the Hospital Authority in recent years, I will provide funding for 10 additional medical social workers.  This will allow more timely services to be provided to patients and their families.  The first integrated community centre for mental wellness in Tin Shui Wai will be set up next month.  It will provide one-stop community support and rehabilitation services to local residents.

Developing Social Capital

122. The Community Investment and Inclusion Fund, established in 2002, provides financial support to community organisations in the development of social capital through cross-sectoral collaboration and community participation.  Over 180 projects subsidised by the Fund in all 18 districts have delivered notable results in capacity building, enhancement of interpersonal relationship and development of community networks.  So far about 60 per cent of the $300 million under the Fund has been committed.  I will closely monitor the spending situation and make an injection when necessary to ensure that the Fund can continue to perform its social function.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:33