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Speech by SLW at Supportive Supervision Scheme Graduation Ceremony (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Supportive Supervision Scheme Graduation Ceremony organised by the Hong Kong Social Workers Association today (June 26):

Alice (President of Hong Kong Social Workers Association, Dr Alice Yuk Tak-fun); Agnes (Project Director, Supportive Supervision Scheme, Ms Agnes Ng); Professor Elizabeth Beddoe (Associate Professor, Programme Leader of Master of Social Work (Research), School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work, the University of Auckland); distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join the Supportive Supervision Scheme (SSS) Graduation Ceremony. I consider it a rare privilege to witness both the commencement of the Scheme a year ago and its inaugural graduation this morning of the first batch of 34 certified supervisors-in-training (SITs).

     The word "SITs" in fact, does not convey the importance of these supervisors. I believe that the acronym "STANDs" which stands for "Supervisors in Training, Nurturing and Development" better reflects their importance. I am sure that these supervisors after training will stand our frontline social workers in good stead in the long run.

     Let me begin by saluting the Hong Kong Social Workers Association (HKSWA) for launching this most worthwhile pilot Scheme, which aims at grooming 100 certified social work supervisors over a span of three years.

     By design, the Scheme's 100 torch bearers of high-quality, professional supervision will provide some 3 500 hours of free supervisory support service to Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), especially those small in size and with frontline social workers in secondary settings. As such, the Scheme not only serves to meet the supervisory needs of practitioners, but also to strengthen the level and sense of professionalism in the social welfare sector.

     To support this important project, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government allocated a grant of $3,962,000 from the Lotteries Fund to HKSWA.

     Hong Kong's ageing population, changing social landscape and family structures, poverty situation and increasing cross-border and cross-boundary interaction with people from the Mainland of China and across the world are features which make this city both typical and unique as a living workshop for social workers. These closely interwoven and complex factors pose huge challenges for policymakers and social workers alike.

     Professional supervision is an essential support element for social workers to stay effective and competent in meeting the diverse needs and rising expectation of their clients. Supervisory training and supervision services therefore play a critical role in helping social workers and welfare organisations to keep abreast with the ever-changing social environment.   

     To enhance the development of the welfare sector, the Social Welfare Department set up a $1 billion Social Welfare Development Fund (SWDF) in 2009. Under Phase 1 of the SWDF, a total of $262.9 million was endorsed for 150 NGOs to implement their projects. Of the approved funds, 55 per cent was for training and professional development programmes and 11 per cent was for studies to enhance service delivery, with some 43 600 persons benefitting from the training and professional development programmes.

     Hong Kong has a fully fledged and well-established welfare sector which offers a suitable environment for social workers to realise their potential.  

     In this financial year (2015-16), government subvention to NGOs for funding a full range of social welfare services will amount to a significant $13 billion. This long-standing partnership between the Government and NGOs coupled with our world-class universities and the increasing readiness and willingness of the business sector in embracing and practising the concept of corporate social responsibility provide a solid basis for the sustainable development of social work. In fact, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary collaboration among the civil society, NGOs, the business community and the Government provides the fertile soil for building a caring, compassionate, cohesive Hong Kong.

     Sharing the commendable goals of social workers, the Hong Kong SAR Government is dedicated to improving the well-being of our people. Our investment in social welfare has been substantial and is constantly rising. It will reach $59.6 billion in 2015-16, representing a significant 18.4 per cent of the Government's annual recurrent expenditure for that year, second only to education.

     For a caring culture to take root in the community, on top of unceasing Government efforts and solid financial commitment, social workers and their supervisors play the crucial role of bridge builders, selfless gardeners and prime movers. They are very much unsung heroes.  

     On this note, I wish the SSS continued success. I am sure that the multiplying and rippling effects of the SSS will pay handsome dividends and enhance the professional quality and competence of our frontline social workers.

Ends/Friday, June 26, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:33


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