Speech by SLW at FAMILY Symposium 2017 opening ceremony (English only)
Dr Steven J Cannon (Executive Vice-President, (Administration & Finance), the University of Hong Kong), Mr Leong Cheung (Executive Director, Charities and Community, the Hong Kong Jockey Club), Professor Daniel Shek (Chairman, the Family Council), Professor Lam Tai-hing (School of Public Health, the University of Hong Kong), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to kick-start this high-level Symposium which marks the 10th anniversary of the Jockey Club-sponsored FAMILY project (FAMILY: A Jockey Club Initiative for a Harmonious Society).
Let me express my deepest gratitude to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for donating a generous sum of $250 million to fund the FAMILY project in 2007. My warmest congratulations and sincere appreciation also go to the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong for conducting this highly impactful territory-wide project which focuses on the holistic health of Hong Kong families through the promotion of the 3Hs, namely health, happiness and harmony.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government believes that family is the cornerstone of society. Our family policies aim at enhancing family harmony to build a caring community and alleviate social problems. To do so, the Government has been promoting family core values, engendering a culture of loving families and nurturing a family friendly social environment.
To provide macro-level, inter-sector and cross-bureau steer and advice on family-related issues, the Family Council was established in 2007, and Professor Daniel Shek, one of the guests of honour today and a leading scholar in family-related issues, has been appointed by the Chief Executive as the non-official Chairman to lead the work of the Family Council since April 1, 2013.
Building on the established approach of including family perspectives in the policymaking process, with effect from April 1, 2013, the current-term Government has introduced a mandatory assessment of family implications for all government policies. Relevant assessment is included in all policy submissions to the high-level Policy Committee and Executive Council and Legislative Council briefs. All government bureaux and departments are also advised to consult the Family Council on policies which may affect families.
At the community level, the 65 Integrated Family Service Centres (IFSCs) across the territory, out of which 41 are operated by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and 24 by 10 non-governmental organisations, together with two Integrated Services Centres in Tung Chung, provide a wide spectrum of preventive, supportive and remedial family services to address the multifarious needs of individuals and families. All IFSCs provide services under the direction of "child-centred, family-focused and community-based" and the guiding principles of "accessibility, early identification, integration and partnership".
In view of the growing complexity of cases handled by IFSCs, the Government has, since the adoption of the IFSC service mode, continuously provided additional resources for strengthening the front-line social work manpower, which was increased from 896 in 2004-05 to 1,123 as at October 2016. This has facilitated the IFSCs in early identification and intervention of, and providing enhanced support to, families and children who are vulnerable to domestic violence and have welfare needs, at-risk pregnant women, mothers suffering from postnatal depression, and children with development problems, etc. To strengthen supervision and support of the work of front-line social workers so as to enhance service and support to the needy IFSCs' families, the SWD also increased the number of supervisory staff from 62 to 98 during the same period. We will continue to closely monitor the workload and manpower situation of the IFSCs, and provide additional resources when necessary.
Noting that breadwinners of many low-income working families often have to work extra to make their ends meet, in May last year, the Labour and Welfare Bureau rolled out the pro-employment and pro-children Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme, more commonly known as the LIFA Scheme. The Scheme aims at encouraging self-reliance, promoting continuous employment, fostering the spirit of hard work, alleviating working poverty and reducing inter-generational poverty. For example, an eligible family of four members with the father working full-time and earning no more than $19,000 per month, the mother as a homemaker and two children may receive a monthly allowance of up to $2,600, which will ease the financial burden of the family.
As the Symposium's two distinguished keynote speakers, Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky from the United States and Professor Ryan E Rhodes from Canada will elaborate later today, family can be a powerful source of individual and collective happiness; it can also be an ideal platform to promote health across a person's lifespan. In fact, when adapted into modern living, our traditional Chinese values that cherish family relationships and intergenerational support can serve as an effective cure to different social problems. That is why this event which serves as an important avenue of knowledge, insight and experience sharing to strengthen family capacities comes at a timely and critical juncture.
On this note, let me wish the FAMILY Symposium 2017 every success. I would also like to wish all of you a fruitful and stimulating discussion, and our overseas guests a pleasant stay in Hong Kong.
Ends/Friday, May 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:08
Issued at HKT 12:08