Provisional LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
Integration of New Arrivals
from Mainland into the Community
The Government's objective is to ensure that new arrivals from the mainland (defined as those who have been in Hong Kong for less than one year) can integrate into the local community as quickly and smoothly as possible. This paper reports on the various measures taken to achieve this objective.
Role of Home Affairs Department
2. The Home Affairs Department (HAD) has the responsibility for monitoring and assessing the services provided for new arrivals. A Steering Committee, chaired by the Director of Home Affairs and comprising representative from policy bureaux and departments concerned, was set up in December 1995 to identify the special needs of new arrivals and consider measures to assist their smooth integration. The Steering Committee's work is complemented by a similar inter-departmental committee in each of the 18 District Offices. Non-government organisations (NGOs) providing services for new arrivals are invited to the Steering Committee meetings on a regular basis in order to forge a real partnership with the Government in improving services.
Survey on New Arrivals
3. HAD has since February 1996 arranged with Immigration Department for new arrrivals to complete a simple survey form when they apply for their identity cards. These surveys serve to update the profile of new arrivals and to facilitate planning by service providers to target services effectively. HAD has been regularly reviewing the survey questions to ensure that the information extracted can be of the greatest use.
4. The Director of Home Affairs has since November 1995 been making regular visits to meet new arrivals and NGOs which offer special education and socialization programmes. Such visits have been useful in helping us understand the needs of new arrivals, and monitor the effectiveness of the services provided to them.
5. With contributions from all relevant government departments and NGOs, HAD has published and regularly updates an information directory which covers all the services available to new arrivals (annexed). It is written in simplified Chinese characters and is distributed at the Lo Wu checkpoint, various outlets operated by Government and voluntary agencies. To date we have published two editions with a total distribution of over 300 000 copies. Preparation of the third edition is underway; consideration is being given to requests for producing the service handbook in English to meet the needs of other minority groups.
6. New arrivals are entitled to use the full range of general services available, namely, housing, social welfare, employment and health care. Like other members of the public, they need to fulfill certain requirements for entitlement to some of these services. For example, new arrivals can apply for financial assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) after their first year of residence in Hong Kong. In genuine hardship cases, the Director of Social Welfare may waive the residence requirement.
(A) Educational Services
7. Upon request, District Education Officers help newly arrived children (NAC) find school places in the district where they live, or in another district if there is no vacancy, and monitor cases until placement is made. Education Department (ED) has issued a revised circular to urge schools to give favourable consideration to applications from NAC for school places.
8. Since April 1996, information leaflets with a pre-paid self-addressed reply slip have been distributed at Lo Wu immigration checkpoints, District Education Offices and District Offices to enable new arrivals to seek assistance for their children's education. A Central Placement Unit was set up in February 1996 to follow up such requests and, where necessary, handle difficult placement cases referred by District Education Offices.
Induction and English Extension Programmes
9. Since April 1995, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been operating a 60-hour Induction Programme for NAC aged 6 to 15. The Programme covers both social adjustment and education aspects including Chinese and English languages learning and homework guidance. So far about 14600 NAC have participated in the programme.
10. Since October 1995, a 60-hour English Extension Programme has been provided by NGOs for NAC aged 9 to 15 who have completed the Induction Programme to improve their standard of English. Up to June 1997, about 8500 NAC have attended this programme.
11. ED has issued to all schools and NGOs running the Induction/ English Extension Programmes curriculum guidelines on the subjects of Chinese Language, English Language and Mathametics, and a teacher's handbook entitled 'English Language for Children Arriving in Hong Kong from Various Parts of China' These guides provide teachers and tutors with a framework to teach NAC the subjects.
English Language Self-learning Package
12. ED has developed an English language self-learning package for Primary 1 to Primary 3 levels to assist NAC in learning the English language. Copies of the self-learning package were distributed to all primary schools and NGOs offering Induction and/or English Extension Programmes for NAC in May 1997.
Languages and Mathematics Tests
13. ED has constructed tests on the Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics to assist schools in assessing the standard of NAC for admission to Primary 1 to Secondary 3 levels. The tests for primary levels were distributed to schools in June 1997 and those for Secondary 1 to 3 levels at the beginning of the 1997-98 school year. The Department will develop similar tests at Secondary 4 level later.
Education for NAC over the Age of 15
14. Newly arrived young people over the age of 15 who have attained academic standards comparable to local Secondary 3 leavers may apply to schools direct for a Secondary 4 place. They may also approach District Education Offices for information on schools and placement assistance. Moreover, they can enrol in craft courses run by the technical institutes of the Vocational Training Council or adult education courses run by ED and NGOs. Since September 1996, we have lowered the admission age for adult education courses from 18 to 15 to provide an additional channel for NAC aged between 15 to 18 to receive education.
15. The Hong Kong Examination Authority (HKEA) has announced that, with effect from 1998, NAC who have not reached the age of 19 by 1 January in the year of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) may apply to HKEA to sit the examination as private candidates, provided that they have attained the standard of senior secondary 2 in the Mainland. NAC who have reached the age of 19 by 1 January in the year of HKCEE have always been allowed to sit the examination as private candidates.
Remedial Services in Schools
16. NAC with special education needs have access to a wide range of support and remedial services in schools, including educational and personal guidance services and remedial teaching in Chinese, English and Mathematics.
17. For NAC who have more severe learning or adjustment difficulties, ED provides a spectrum of intensive remedial services as well as other assessment and supportive services.
School-based Support Programme
18. A School-Based Support Programme has been introduced in the 1997-98 school year. A block grant is given to public sector schools which take NAC, at the rate of $2,000 per NAC at primary level and $3,330 at secondary level. Schools can use this block grant to provide school-based services for NAC such as organising tutorial classes or extra-curricular activities, developing special teaching material and acquiring specific resource material.
Short-term full-time Courses
19. ED has identified five primary and two secondary schools at convenient locations which have vacant classrooms to operate short-term full-time courses on a pilot basis in the 1997-98 school year. The aim of these courses is to help NAC improve their academic standard and learning skills in preparation for regular school studies in a school setting.
Provision of school places
20. To provide school places for NAC, ED will build seven primary and nine secondary schools between the 1997/98 and 1999/2000 school year.
(B) Social Welfare Assistance
Post-migration Service of ISS-HK
21. Since early 1970s, Social Welfare Department (SWD) has been subventing the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch (ISS-HK), as the first point of contact for new arrivals, to provide post-migration services for needy new arrivals. These services include :
- Travellers?Aid Desk at Hung Hom railway station which provides general enquiry service and assistance;
- enquiry and information service at the Tsim Sha Tsui Office of the Immigration Department when new arrivals apply for Hong Kong Identity Cards;
- orientation programmes to help new arrivals get acquainted with the local community and adjust to local life;
- elementary Cantonese classes for those non-Cantonese-speaking new arrivals;
- counselling and referral services; and
- social groups to facilitate new arrivals to share experiences and establish a mutual support network.
22. ISS-HK will also open two new centres, one in Wong Tai Sin and the other in Sham Shui Po, before the end of this year to facilitate the new arrivals?access to its post-migration service.
Co-ordination with Non-Government Organisations
23. SWD maintains regular dialogue with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and NGOs to encourage them to take into account the needs of new arrivals in their provision of services. Through regular meetings of the standing District Service Co-ordinating Committees attended by representatives of NGOs in each district, a concerted effort has been made to identify the needs of new arrivals in districts and to re-direct resources to organize programmes specially designed to cater for these needs.
Special Project for New Arrival Children
24. With $1.25 million donated by the Standard Chartered Community Foundation, SWD will launch a two-year project entitled 'Creation of Our New Home in Hong Kong' targeted at new arrival children starting from September this year. Service units of SWD and NGOs in eight districts which have a high population of new arrivals will organize a series of specially-designed programmes to help new arrival children and their families to build up peer support and mutual help network. It is estimated that 3,000 new arrival children will benefit from the project.
(C) Employment Assistance
25. Most new arrivals are not familiar with Hong Kong's work culture or the local labour market. Furthermore, many of them do not possess skills and experiences required by local employers.
26. The Employees Retraining Ordinance has been amended to enable the enrolment of new arrivals in the Employees?Retraining Scheme. The Labour Department will soon open an employment and guidance centre for new arrivals in Shaukeiwan to provide a comprehensive range of employment and guidance services tailor-made for new arrivals, including the provision of labour market information, employment counselling, briefing on practices and conditions of work in Hong Kong, career guidance, intensive job matching and job referrals. These services are designed to enable new arrivals to have a better understanding of the local job market, make suitable preparation in their job search and adapt quickly to their new jobs.
27. It is Government policy to assist all households in our community, including new arrivals from the Mainland, to have access to adequate and affordable housing. The Housing Department will continue to encourage new arrivals to register on the public housing Waiting List so that their applications can be processed once they have met the seven-year residence rule.
28. Many new arrivals join families already living in private flats. In cases where new arrivals face real difficulties in accommodation, they may temporarily be accommodated in transit centres until they can make their own housing arrangements. New arrivals who are dependants of existing tenants in public rental housing and interim housing are allowed to join their families. Where this results in overcrowded living conditions, these households can apply for re-allocation to larger flats. Moreover, for new arrivals and their families who have genuine housing needs on medical or social grounds, the Housing Department may, upon recommendation of SWD, offer rehousing on a compassionate basis. New arrivals can also join their families in purchasing Home Ownership Scheme flats if their families fulfill the requisite criteria.
29. In the financial year 1997-98, a total of about $178 million, representing an increase of 110% over the previous year, has been made available to the various departments concerned for the provision of additional services described above. For example, HAD has created 15 new posts at the cost of $5.28 million to assist in the monitoring and assessing of the services provided for new arrivals. All government departments concerned will be seeking further additional resources in the coming financial year.
30. HAD's service handbook has improved awareness of the services available. Various government departments have also been stepping up publicity on the provision of additional services. Press briefings are given by the Steering Committee every few months to update the community on the situation regarding new arrivals, as this is a matter of general concern. The next briefing will be held on 19 September.
31. We have forged a real partnership with the NGOs in assisting new arrivals in integrating quickly and smoothly into the local community. An encouraging example is the Hong Kong Jockey Club's recent decision to fund an Integrated Service Project for New Arrvials by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups to provide guidance, counselling, referral services and group activities for newly arrived families which have genuine difficulties in adapting to life in Hong Kong. We expect further applications to be submitted to the Jockey Club from other NGOs, and this will complement the Government's effort in providing similar services. Provision of services for new arrivals have become a community effort.
32. We will continue to encourage NGOs to formulate and implement new initiatives to help new arrivals. Meanwhile, the concerned policy bureaux and government departments constantly review our services to see if further improvements can be made.
Home Affairs Department
Last Updated on 24 October 1997