With the public agenda still dominated by the Occupy protests, it is easy to forget that Hong Kong is beset with other challenges. An ageing society is one of them. Aggravated by a fast-greying population and an extremely low birth rate, our demographics are moving towards such an unhealthy state that the city will run into problems, such as a shrinking workforce, spiraling medical bills and budget deficits within decades. While successive governments have long recognised the need to act, little has been done. It is good to learn that the current government is not deterred by the prevailing negative socio-political sentiment. According to informed government sources, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is considering a raft of measures to cope with the issues arising from an ageing society. This includes building more childcare centres to help mothers return to work. This can be achieved by asking the Housing Authority to provide the facilities in future estates. Newly built government premises also will be furnished with such centres under a pilot scheme. That it has taken so long for officials to come up with such straightforward proposals is baffling. They are nonetheless a welcome step. There were 690 places at subsidised childcare centres providing whole-day services to children aged below three in the previous financial year, accounting for less than 1 per cent of the 207,000 children in the age group. The dearth of support means mothers often have to give up working for childrearing. Subject to a final decision by the government, the initiative is expected to help relieve the burden on mothers and hopefully help them return to work. The declining birth rate is a complicated issue. Childcare support is just one of the many factors that couples take into account before committing themselves to raising a family. Personal finance, schooling and living space are no less important considerations. The clock is ticking fast. By 2041, some 30 per cent of the population will be aged 65 or above, up from 14 per cent now. While it is true that a more family friendly working environment may encourage births and regenerate the workforce, it is only one of the steps needed to mitigate the problems of demographic change. The public awaits a holistic approach from the Leung administration to deal with the challenge in the long run.