LCQ6: Support for community organisations and groups
It is learnt that the Government intends to strengthen its communications with district grassroots organisations and groups in order to unite different sectors of the community to work together to solve problems. Regarding the support for community organisations and groups, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Government put in place dedicated funds or subsidy schemes in the past five years to provide the following categories of organisations or groups with subsidies to launch district and grassroots services: (i) district grassroots organizations, (ii) agriculture and fisheries organisations, (iii) clansmen associations, (iv) youth groups, (v) women's groups, (vi) associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, (vii) social welfare organisations established before Hong Kong's return to the motherland, and (viii) international organisations; if so, of the details, as well as the amounts of funding granted annually to each category of organisations or groups and their percentages in the total amount of funding;
(2) whether it will consider establishing a regular liaison mechanism, formulating support policies and launching new and dedicated subsidy schemes for district grassroots organisations, agriculture and fisheries organisations, clansmen associations, youth groups, women's groups and associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, as well as increasing subsidies for such organisations or groups, with a view to more effectively implementing the targets of "strengthening communications with district grassroots organisations and groups" and "setting up a systematic network of volunteers" as proposed by the Chief Executive in his election manifesto; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) as there are views pointing out that quite a number of the six categories of organisations or groups mentioned in (2) as well as emerging organisations or groups are unable to obtain the necessary resources for launching services, whether the Government will ensure that such organisations or groups (particularly those which are in line with the Government's governance philosophy) can obtain the necessary resources; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government is strongly committed to strengthening communications with district grassroots organisations and groups, and working together with different sectors of the community to promote Government policies with a result-oriented approach to tackle social problems in a pragmatic manner. The organisations and groups mentioned in the question, including district grassroots organisations, agriculture and fisheries organisations, clansmen associations, youth groups, women's groups, associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, social welfare organisations and international organisations, involve a number of policy bureaux and departments. In consultation with the bureaux and departments concerned, my consolidated reply is as follows:
(1) The Government has put in place subsidy schemes and dedicated funds to provide district grassroots organisations, women's groups and youth groups with subsidies to launch various services, for example, support services for ethnic minorities and mental health initiatives provided by district grassroots organisations, projects for promoting women's development organised by women's groups, and youth exchange, internship, entrepreneurship and life planning projects organised by youth groups. Details of the funding in the past five years are set out in the Annex.
In addition, welfare services operated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and groups, including elderly care services, rehabilitation services, services for young people, and family and child welfare services, etc., are mainly funded by the Government. By adopting a "services-based" approach, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) provides different types of subvention and subsidy to the NGOs operating welfare services for serving those in need. In the past five years, the SWD's allocation of recurrent subventions to NGOs are tabulated below:
(2) and (3) Besides, the Member suggested that the Government establish a regular liaison mechanism, formulate support policies and launch subsidy schemes for the six categories of groups, namely district grassroots organisations, agriculture and fisheries organisations, clansmen associations, youth groups, women's groups and associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland. All along, the Government has been working in the best interests of Hong Kong people by collaborating with various groups and organisations, while optimising and rallying the resources and efforts of all sectors to promote Government policies, with a view to meeting the public aspiration in a practical manner for the well-being of the community. In addition to providing resources to relevant groups and organisations as appropriate, bureaux and departments also communicate and co-operate with the groups and organisations concerned in different ways, or provide appropriate policy support.
In terms of welfare services, in order to cater for the ever-changing service demands of society, the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the SWD review publicly-funded services and projects from time to time, and provide different types of subvention and subsidy to the NGOs operating welfare services, facilitating the NGOs to not only continuously enhance and improve existing services, but also develop innovative modes of welfare service provision to meet the latest development needs of society and keep abreast of the times.
In order to support the agriculture and fisheries sector and promote modernisation and sustainable development of the industries, the Environment and Ecology Bureau and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department have been maintaining close liaison with and providing technical, training and financial support to the agriculture and fisheries sector. For example, in order to support the sector in the application of technology and intensification of production, and enhance their overall competitiveness, the Government has established the Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund and Sustainable Agricultural Development Fund with $500 million each.
In respect of youth, young people are Hong Kong's future. "Hong Kong will prosper only when its young people thrive". The Government attaches great importance to education and youth development. For example, the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau (HYAB) already provides recurrent subvention to youth uniformed groups established by the community to support their provision of informal education and training to young people which serves to help them foster positive values, strengthen leadership skills and attain whole-person development. Meanwhile, the HYAB and the Youth Development Commission have also launched funding schemes to subsidise eligible NGOs to take forward projects regarding youth exchange, internship, entrepreneurship and life planning, etc.
As for women's groups, the Government has already announced in the Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address that the annual funding for the Women's Commission would be increased by 2.5 times originally from $4 million to $10 million in the next three years for setting up a Women Empowerment Fund (the Fund) to promote women development. Women's groups can apply for the Fund to organise activities and programmes to support women in balancing job and family commitments to unleash their potential.
The Home Affairs Department (HAD) also maintains liaison with clansmen associations and has been providing funding support to them for organising activities to promote clansmen culture under the "Know Your Homeland - Clansmen Association Subsidy Scheme" since 2018. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the HAD especially organised the "Clansmen Culture Exhibition" in July this year to enhance the public's understanding of and sense of belonging to the nation.
Regarding the associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, the Mainland Offices of the HKSAR Government (Mainland Offices) not only attach great importance to maintaining close liaison with them, but also help convey their views and appeals to relevant Mainland authorities and take necessary follow-up actions. The Mainland Offices, in collaboration with the associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, organise various activities such as trade seminars to support Hong Kong residents, and offer support and sponsorship to those activities such as annual dinners, seminars and orientation activities for universities) as appropriate.
In fact, in addition to the aforementioned support for the specific categories of groups, the Government also has other allocation for application by different district organisations and groups according to different policy objectives. For example, the Community Involvement Programme implemented by the HAD is open for application by eligible organisations for funding support to organise projects featuring local characteristics and popular festive celebrations as well as cultural, artistic and recreational activities etc., to foster closer communication and promote district harmony. Many of the grantees are district grassroots organisations, clansmen associations, youth groups and women's groups.
The aforementioned are just a few examples of the Government's support and communications with district organisations and groups. The Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare and I stand ready to provide further information on the Member's supplementary questions, especially on those relating to the HYAB as well as labour and welfare issues. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:20
Issued at HKT 15:20