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Speech by SLW at luncheon reception with Executive Committee of Rehabilitation International (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at a luncheon reception with the Executive Committee of Rehabilitation International today (September 19):

Mr Monsbakken (President of Rehabilitation International, Mr Jan Monsbakken), Ms Zhang (President Elect of Rehabilitation International and Chairperson of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, Ms Zhang Haidi), Mr Chua (Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Mr Chua Hoi-wai), Mr Cheung Kin-fai (Chairman of the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities), Mr Benny Cheung (Chairman of the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation), Ms Lau (President of the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf, Ms Lau Lai-fong), Mr Hui (Chairman of the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee, Mr Herman Hui), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Hong Kong.

     As you are aware, the People's Republic of China was among the first batch of states that signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN Convention) when it was opened for signature on March 30, 2007. The UN Convention entered into force for China including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on August 31, 2008.

     The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to promoting and safeguarding the well-being and rights of persons with disabilities and building an inclusive, caring, fair and barrier-free community in Hong Kong. This is vividly illustrated by the fact that the Government has been allocating increasing resources to strengthen the rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. The overall government recurrent expenditure of these services has increased from $16.6 billion (about US$2.13 billion) in 2007-08 to $28.6 billion (about US$3.68 billion) in 2015-16, up by over 70 per cent and representing about 9 per cent of our total government recurrent expenditure.

     Hong Kong takes our obligations under the UN Convention seriously. We are taking a three-pronged approach in developing our rehabilitation service and enhancing the well-being of persons with disabilities.

     First, we are striving to assist persons with disabilities in getting prepared for employment, taking up productive jobs on the basis of their abilities, developing their potential and achieving self-reliance.

     Second, we are vigorously promoting cross-sectoral collaboration in providing a barrier-free environment in our community. To improve access to existing government premises, public housing and connecting road facilities, the Government implemented a comprehensive retrofitting programme to upgrade the barrier-free facilities to the latest design standard. This programme, costing $1.3 billion (about US$167 million), covers about 3 500 government premises or facilities such as post offices, markets, community halls, libraries and swimming pools, and 240 housing estates. We will continue to upgrade the barrier-free facilities in these premises as an ongoing initiative to further enhance the accessibility for persons with disabilities, the elderly and other persons in need.

     Third, we provide persons with disabilities and their carers with a wide range of subsidised rehabilitation services, including residential care services, community support services, day training and vocational rehabilitation services, pre-school rehabilitation services and community mental health services. We have set in train a major building programme to increase substantially the provision of residential and day training and rehabilitation places to meet growing demands.

     We will step up our partnership with the rehabilitation sector, including non-governmental organisations, self-help groups of persons with disabilities, and various sectors of the community in fulfilment of the spirit and core values enshrined in the UN Convention. The presence of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities, the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf and the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee here today clearly demonstrates that we are of one mind in building a caring, compassionate, cohesive and fair society in Hong Kong.

     Last but not least, I would like to congratulate Rehabilitation International most warmly on your excellent achievements in helping people with disabilities gain access to education, rehabilitation, employment, health care, justice, and inclusion in all aspects of society. There is much that Hong Kong can learn from the best practices elsewhere. The meeting of Rehabilitation International here provides an ideal platform for us to do so. Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, September 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:39


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