A pilot scheme to provide counselling to people who are violent towards their family members will be launched next year. Under the 'batterer intervention programme', the Social Welfare Department will refer offenders to non-governmental organisations for counselling when it is asked by the courts to submit probation reports or when couples or individuals request it. The pilot scheme will operate from next January until March 2008. Workshops will be held to help victims understand their rights, protection afforded by the law and the support services offered by the government. Additional resources will be allocated to set up community networks to reach out to families in need. A government spokeswoman said the initiative implied there would be more resources for the 61 existing integrated family service centres. 'We realise that people who approached us in the past might not be the group that needed help the most. 'The most vulnerable ones are either unwilling or do not know how to seek help,' she said. However, Liu Ngan-fung, of the Hong Kong Association for the Survivors of Women Abuse, said the batterer intervention scheme was not much different from current practice. She urged the government to revise domestic-violence legislation to make it mandatory for batterers to receive counselling. In his policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen also pledged to introduce a scheme for private doctors to pay regular visits to the 8,000 disabled patients currently cared for at 170 rehabilitation centres.