Policy address neglected needs of children in city
The chief executive's policy address lacks a child perspective and fails to present a comprehensive child policy for the 1.1 million children aged 0 to 18 in Hong Kong.
A proactive child policy serves as a cornerstone for population policy and poverty alleviation. A child cannot wait and we as a community must see the fundamental value of investing in the upbringing of a healthy child. Many countries around the world recognise the need to ensure that children are visible in all major policy deliberations.
A proactive child policy covers a wide spectrum of important areas: a safe, violence-free and healthy home environment, quality health care and education for children, training and support for parents and care givers, and relevant personnel to unleash potential in the community.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's first policy address did indicate, albeit briefly, that his administration would look into a child policy for Hong Kong. However, in the past year no specific action appears to have been taken. In last month's policy address, there was no attempt to make fundamental changes to that mindset. Though the Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights welcomes the provision of subsidies to low-income families, it takes more than financial support to improve the holistic well-being of children, the pillars of tomorrow.
The government has argued that there are forums to address children's concerns, namely the Family Council and the Children's Rights Forum. But both forums have failed to make children's best interests their focal point of concern. They did not properly follow up on recommendations made repeatedly by United Nations experts on children's rights.
Making children more visible in policies is becoming a global trend. In Hong Kong, it has also become a concern for the community at large. The Legislative Council in 2007 and 2013 unanimously urged the government to set up a child commission as a specific platform to make child impact assessments for public policies and practices and to formulate a plan of action for children.
It is 20 years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in Hong Kong. It is high time genuine reforms were implemented to ensure children are properly represented, by putting effective mechanisms and measures in place.
Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, vice-chairperson, Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights