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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (15)

Promoting Mental Health

144. In the next financial year, the HA will launch new programmes for patients with severe mental illness and common mental disorders, involving an expenditure of over $100 million.  Relevant measures include:

(1) Piloting a case management programme in three districts to train healthcare workers as case managers to provide continuous and customised intensive support at the community level to persons with severe mental illness.  The programme will be gradually extended to cover the whole territory.  It is expected that the number of patients benefiting from the programme will increase from 5 000 in 2010-11 to 16 000 in 2012-13; and

(2) Promoting collaboration between psychiatric specialist out-patient service and primary healthcare service to provide appropriate assessment and consultation services for patients with common mental disorders.  This new measure is expected to benefit 7 000 patients in 2010-11, and the number of beneficiaries will increase to 10 000 each year from 2011-12 onwards.

145. I will also provide additional recurrent funding of about $70 million to extend the service mode of the existing Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness in Tin Shui Wai to all 18 districts in Hong Kong.  As for manpower, I will increase the recurrent funding by about $6 million to recruit 14 additional psychiatric medical social workers, thereby increasing their number to over 210 to enhance the psychiatric medical social service.

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

146. As proposed in the Policy Address, the Government will launch a new programme to strengthen support for victims of domestic violence.  The Social Welfare Department will provide a subvention of about $5 million each year to non-governmental organisations for operating the "Victim Support Programme".  Under the programme, emotional support and relevant information on judicial proceedings and social support services will be provided to victims of spouse battering and child abuse cases, particularly those undergoing judicial proceedings.  The programme is expected to be launched in the first half of this year.

Supporting Job Seekers

147. To Hong Kong people, having a job is of utmost importance.  Employment provides a source of steady income and protection for individuals and families.  It is a key to social stability.  Therefore, I have been paying great attention to the employment issue and adopting a two-pronged approach.  First is promoting economic development.  Only when the economy grows robustly can more employment opportunities be created.  Second is providing suitable employment support and training to increase the competitiveness and employment motivation of job seekers so they can seize these opportunities.  I will therefore provide additional funding of $173 million to implement the following measures to support job seekers.

148. The Labour Department will launch a two-year "Pilot Employment Navigator Programme".  Under this programme, a cash incentive of $5,000 will be payable to each person who has worked for a continuous period of three months after receiving the department's intensive employment counselling and job matching services.  The programme will provide 11 000 places a year.  It is designed to address the problem of manpower mismatch, fully utilise our labour productivity and encourage employment.

149. We will step up our efforts to help young people with special employment difficulties.  The Labour Department will launch a targeted employment programme under which non-governmental organisations will provide training and internship for 12 months to young people, aged between 15 and 24 with low educational qualifications, who need special assistance because of emotional and behavioural problems or learning difficulties.  The programme will provide 500 places.

150. In my last Budget I provided additional funding of over $400 million for the Labour Department to strengthen its various employment and training services.  These services will continue to benefit job seekers in 2010-11.

151. During the Budget consultation period, there were many suggestions to extend the Transport Support Scheme, which aims at encouraging needy job seekers living in remote districts where job opportunities are fewer to "go out" and seek jobs or work across districts.  The Labour and Welfare Bureau will complete by the end of this year a study on ways to reduce the burden of travelling expenses borne by the working poor in Hong Kong.  The existing Transport Support Scheme will remain in force before the completion of the study.  I will make suitable financial provisions depending on the findings of the study.

Joining the Effort to Help the Disadvantaged

152. I firmly believe that only by pooling the efforts of various sectors of the community, by collaboration between the community, the business sector and the Government, can we effectively help disadvantaged groups and build a caring society.  Since its inception in 2005, through funding support on a matching basis, the Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged has been promoting tripartite partnership among the social welfare sector, the business sector and the Government in helping the disadvantaged, thereby enhancing social cohesion.  So far, over $100 million has been approved under the Fund.  This, together with the matching donations from the business sector, supports non-governmental organisations to implement various welfare projects in conjunction with the business sector.  Around 650 000 disadvantaged persons have benefited from these projects.  In view of the favourable response from the community, I propose to inject $200 million into the Fund to encourage further cross-sector collaboration to help the disadvantaged.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:33


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