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Speech by SLW at Annual General Meeting of International Social Service - Hong Kong Branch (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, at the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of International Social Service - Hong Kong Branch (ISS-HK) today (December 5):

Mr Ho (Chairman of the Advisory Committee of ISS-HK, Mr C P Ho), Stephen (Chief Executive of ISS-HK, Mr Stephen Yau), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to join you at the 2017 AGM of ISS-HK. By next year, it will be your 60th anniversary, same as our Social Welfare Department.

     ISS-HK has a long history of service in Hong Kong and, needless to say, is a long-standing partner of the Hong Kong Government. Since its inception in 1958, the organisation has worked tirelessly to provide much needed support to families, children, youth, the elderly, migrants and refugees.

     One unique feature of ISS-HK services is its global network - ISS International. Through this international network, ISS-HK is able to operate services beyond Hong Kong borders. With subventions from the Hong Kong Government and the support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Community Chest, ISS-HK offers social services to cross-border families, new arrivals, migrants and non-refoulement claimants.

     One of the finest examples of ISS' cross-border capability must be the Programme for Old Age Allowance Recipients under the Guangdong Scheme, which assists the elderly residing in Guangdong.

     As can be seen from the Chief Executive's recent Policy Address, the Hong Kong Government is dedicated to building a caring, inclusive and fair society for all. The Government cannot do this alone and must rally support from equally caring partners like the ISS. It is only through the joint collaboration of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the business sector and the community that some of Hong Kong's most pressing social issues can be resolved.

     I have only taken office for just slightly more than four months. There is obviously an overwhelming number of challenges and controversial issues that I have to deal with and find solutions for. Let me just highlight two areas of services that we would need to develop much further and need the assistance of NGOs like ISS. One is related to foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong and the other is related to elderly Hong Kong residents living in the Mainland.

     As you probably know, currently in Hong Kong there are well over 360 000 FDHs. Because of the ageing population of Hong Kong, we are projecting that the number of FDHs will grow to a number of 600 000 some 30 years later. There is a need to strengthen our support to this part of our labour force, i.e. about 10 per cent now and one-sixth in the future, to ensure that their rights and welfare are fully protected and they are enjoying working here. Otherwise, Hong Kong will not be able to attract and recruit the needed number of FDHs. I will welcome suggestions and ideas in this area.

     According to the China 2010 census, there were about 235 000 Hong Kong residents residing in the Mainland, and among them 94 000 were "living" there, i.e. choosing the Mainland as their place of residence. The great majority of them, 80 000, were living in Guangdong. A rough estimation will give us a number of about 1 000 of them who would be needing some kind of long-term care and this number will be growing very fast. While I am not sure of the future trend of Hong Kong residents going back to the Mainland for their retirement and subsequently requiring long-term care when they grow much older, according to the current policy of ageing in place, we should aim at helping those who are already living in the Mainland to age in place. For this, I will welcome ideas and suggestions.

     With the above appeals, I wish to, again, congratulate ISS-HK for another fruitful year of achievements under the able leadership of Mr Ho and Stephen.

     Thank you very much.
Ends/Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:27
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