Department's support to families has been strengthened
I refer to the letter from Hilton Cheong-leen of the Hong Kong Civic Association, headlined 'Is enough being done to curb domestic violence?' (South China Morning Post, June 12), in which he appealed for more to be done to assist families faced with problems in order to prevent tragedies. I echo his appeal.
In the last couple of years, the Social Welfare Department has made considerable efforts in strengthening support to families, from preventive to remedial.
Major public education campaigns have been launched on parenting education, child protection and empowering families to face challenges. More accessible family services are rendered through integrated family services centres.
Specialised support services have been implemented and strengthened to handle child abuse, domestic violence, suicide and family crisis.
Amongst the new initiatives is the Family Crisis Support Centre that provides a full range of hotline, counselling, time-out and peer support services round the clock.
At the policy level, a multi-disciplinary and cross-sector approach in the prevention and handling of domestic violence is adopted.
The Committee on Child Abuse and the Working Group on Combating Violence, with representatives drawn from various professions and organisations within and outside Government, are responsible for devising measures to tackle the problems of child abuse, spouse battering and sexual violence.
At the district level, there are 13 district co-ordinating committees on family and child welfare services. They are chaired by district social welfare officers, with members drawn from the relevant government departments, non-governmental organisations and other concerned parties.
These committees contribute to the planning of family and child welfare services, including the prevention of domestic violence, and co-ordinate public education programmes in the district.
Despite these support networks and initiatives, family tragedies can only be prevented by individuals caring for themselves and their families and the community showing mutual concern.
In recognition of the importance of social cohesion, the Government has set up the community investment and inclusion fund. The fund will provide an impetus to local projects and initiatives designed to build up mutual concern and support within the community. It is a kind of social investment, not social welfare.
We welcome individuals and groups to join us in this social cause.
Director of Social Welfare