The killing of a mother and her two young daughters in Tin Shui Wai earlier this year raised disturbing questions about Hong Kong's ability to tackle serious social problems - especially domestic violence. This week, a report published by an independent panel of inquiry has revealed how numerous and complex those problems are. The comprehensive report calls for action to be taken on many different fronts. It highlights failings in areas such as urban planning, as well as the system for identifying and protecting people who are at risk. It is a wake-up call for the government. This report should provide a foundation upon which to build a better system. It will require more resources and the co-operation of different departments. But if lessons are to be learned from the Tin Shui Wai tragedy, the report cannot be ignored. Kim Shuk-ying and her two daughters, aged five and six, were found chopped to death in April. Her husband also suffered stab wounds and later died in hospital. He appears to have killed them because they were planning to leave home. It emerged that Kim had sought help from both social workers and the police in the days leading up to the killings. She had previously taken refuge in a Social Welfare Department shelter. The system clearly failed her. The three-person panel appointed by the government did not concern itself with precisely what went wrong in Kim's case. Many questions remain unanswered. It focused instead on the broader issues. In the report, the panel paints an unattractive picture of the way in which social problems have been allowed to develop in Tin Shui Wai. The population of this new town has grown rapidly - but this has not been matched by a growth in much-needed facilities and services. The result is a crowded urban environment lacking facilities such as playgrounds and libraries. The majority of the population lives in public housing and on low incomes. Many of them are new arrivals from the mainland. It is hardly surprising that crime and other social problems have mushroomed. Unfortunately, as the report suggests, this social time bomb was not foreseen by the government and the delivery of social services, although now improving, has been inadequate. Reforms are needed across the board. The package of proposals suggested by the panel are not confined to Tin Shui Wai. They include greater co-ordination between government departments and a need to identify which problems exist where. Much emphasis is, rightly, placed on the need to make the zero-tolerance policy for domestic abuse a reality. This will require more detailed guidelines and intensive training for those who come in contact with victims, including social workers and the police. It may require law reform and should certainly be accompanied by efforts to increase public awareness of the problem. The report stresses the need to make the best use of available resources. That is certainly to be encouraged. But if the objectives identified by the panel are to be achieved, more funds are clearly going to be needed. An overhaul of relevant policies on this scale cannot take place on the cheap. So far, the government's reaction to the report has been limited to a promise to take the recommendations seriously. A clear, top-level commitment to change is required. The problems highlighted are clearly not the responsibility of the Social Welfare Department alone. In recent weeks, other family tragedies have occurred. And evidence suggests that domestic violence is on the increase. The report must be acted upon and the necessary improvements made. The changes will, sadly, come too late for Kim and her young daughters. But others could be saved.