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 (SSS) Graduation Ceremony today (July 15):

Irene (President of the Hong Kong Social Workers Association, Ms Irene Leung), Agnes (Project Director of the SSS, Ms Agnes Ng), Professor Lee Mo-yee (Professor and Programme Director of the College of Social Work, Ohio State University), Professor David Grove (I-FAST Trainer and Clinical Consultant), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     It gives me great pleasure to join this year's Supportive Supervision Scheme Graduation Ceremony and meet with old friends and new from the field of social work.

     Two years ago in 2014, I inaugurated Hong Kong's first Supportive Supervision Scheme organised by the Hong Kong Social Workers Association (HKSWA). I also witnessed the graduation of the first 34 certified supervisors-in-training (SITs) last year. It is indeed an honour and a rare privilege for me to take part in the Graduation Ceremony of yet another 33 certified SITs this year.
     Besides signifying SITs, the acronym SITs also refers to a group of social work supermen and superwomen with sincerity, intellect, intelligence, innovation, tenacity and different kinds of talents. 
     My warmest tribute to HKSWA for launching this most worthwhile three-year pilot Scheme, which aims at grooming 100 certified social work supervisors. 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 front-line 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.
     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 also play a critical role in helping social workers and welfare organisations to keep abreast with the ever-changing social environment. Therefore, I believe that the positive rippling effects brought by the 100 certified supervisors will be profound and impactful, not only to the welfare sector, but to the broader Hong Kong community.
     To support this highly meaningful landmark project, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government allocated a grant of $3,962,000 from the Lotteries Fund to HKSWA.
     Having served as the Hong Kong SAR Government's Secretary for Labour and Welfare for nine years, I often come across front-line social work practitioners who share with me the paramount importance of professional growth, development and supervisory guidance to their work.
     The Government is committed to enhancing the continuous development of the welfare sector. The Social Welfare Department set up a $1 billion Social Welfare Development Fund (SWDF) in 2009. So far, funding amounting to $298 million involving 293 NGOs has been endorsed, benefitting a large number of social workers at various levels. The application for Phase 3 of SWDF (2016-19) is open now until December 31, 2016.

     Hong Kong's rapidly ageing population, changing social landscape and family structures, poverty situation, increasing cross-border and cross-boundary interaction with people from the Mainland of China and across the world, and the fast-rising social aspirations of the general public pose huge challenges for policymakers and social workers alike. But we will not and should not shy away from these problems.

     Instead, the Government is committed to tackling these problems and challenges head on by leaving no stones unturned. We call on our long-time partners and companions of the welfare sector to continue to join hands with us in resolving social problems and building a caring, compassionate and cohesive Hong Kong.

     The current-term 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 $66.2 billion in 2016-17, representing a significant 19 per cent of the Government's annual recurrent expenditure for that year, second only to education.

     In this financial year, government subvention to NGOs for funding a full range of social welfare services will amount to a significant $16 billion, a 23 per cent increase from last year's $13 billion. This speaks volumes about the Government’s long-standing partnership with the NGOs.

     Moreover, the Government's continuous and rising investment in welfare infrastructure building and software upgrading will provide abundant opportunities for social workers to unleash their potential.

     Hong Kong's world-class universities and the increasing readiness and willingness of the business sector in embracing and practising the concept of corporate social responsibility also serve to offer 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 fostering a caring culture in Hong Kong. Social workers and their supervisors also play the crucial role of selfless gardeners and prime movers. They are the superb incognito teachers or unsung heroes of our society who enable a caring culture to take root in the community.

     On this note, let me wish the SSS continued success. I am sure that the SSS will pay handsome dividends and enhance the professional quality and competence of our front-line social workers. Thank you.

Ends/Friday, July 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:09