(Summary Translation)

(Submission by the Residents�Association for
Fighting for Community Development Services)

To: Members of the Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services

From: Residents’ Association for Fighting for Community Development Services

(Information Note for the meeting of the
Panel on Welfare Services on 18 February)

The Residents’ Association for Fighting for Community Development Services, which was set up in August 1994, is comprised of residents living in new public rental housing (PRH), old urban areas, squatter areas and temporary housing areas (THAs). Our association aims at fighting for the provision of Neighbourhood Level Community Development Projects (NLCDPs) services to all areas in need of such services, such as old urban areas, old and new PRHs, new towns and interim housing areas. The NLCDP services have been provided mainly to residents in redeveloped PRHs, THAs and squatter areas. The effectiveness of such services have been recognized by the Government. However, with the reduced number of such service areas, NLCDP services have been experiencing gradual shrinkage. As beneficiaries of NLCDP services, we are given to understand our own rights and benefits, and are given the opportunity to show concern about social policies and to know about the way of expressing our own views. As a result, the Government is able to tailor its policies to better meet the needs of the residents.

Noting that NLCDP services are being cut, some university lecturers, social workers, Members at different tiers and even members of the general public joined hands to fight for the full expansion of NLCDP services. With their concerted efforts, the Government agreed to introduce two three-year pilot NLCDPs in Mong Kok South and Sham Shui Po in recognition of the need for such services in old urban areas. With a view to providing more effective assistance to residents in old urban areas, the above group further requested the Government to immediately provide NLCDP services to all old urban areas without having to wait for the review on the pilot projects. As a result, the Executive Council endorsed the establishment of an independent review group in 1995 to conduct an early review on the two pilot projects, in order to determine whether NLCDPs should be provided to all old urban areas. The review group, under the chairmanship of Professor Felice LIEH MAK and represented by representatives from the social service sector, the Social Welfare Department, the then Home Affairs Branch and the academic sector, was formed in the latter half of 1996. The review group has recently come up with some preliminary recommendations which will be submitted to the Executive Council for deliberation. We hope that the Honourable Members will support and convey to the Administration our views on the above recommendations, which are summarized in the following table:

Recommendations by the review group

Views of the Residents’ Association

1. Objectives and Scope of Services

Objectives: to make known to the residents the availability of the existing welfare services, to encourage residents to participate in voluntary work, and to enhance their capability of rendering mutual help.

Scope of services: home visits, referral of services, and formation of teams of voluntary workers.

The scope of services is far too narrow, overlooking individual development such as the provision of training for residents, the enhancement of their social awareness, and fighting for the rights of the grass-roots. It even restricts the chance for the public to respond to social policies.

Request: to help organize the grass-roots, to provide them with training and to raise their awareness of resolving problems through a collective approach.

2. Period of Services

The services will be provided only to old urban areas for a period of two years and will not be extended thereafter, regardless of its effectiveness.

Problems in old urban areas, such as those concerning the elderly, the new arrivals, poverty and housing, are very complicated. All these problems cannot be solved simply by means of home visits and referral of services. As long as old urban areas exist, the grass-roots will still be plagued by livelihood problems and the problems surrounding the communities in which they live.

Request: to set up a review mechanism to conduct reviews after a lapse of at least three years; and subject to the effectiveness of the services and the need of the community, to continue with the provision of such services.

3. Vetting System

Public tenders will be invited. Any interested groups may apply for the provision of such services. No priority will be given to existing agencies operating NLCDP teams.

As regards the provision of services to old urban areas, priority should be given to those NLCDP teams which have experience in providing community services. Such services can be regarded as complementary in nature in order to ensure the continuity of services.

Request: priority should be given to the NLCDPs to provide services to old urban areas.

We would be most grateful if the Honourable Members could accept our views and move a motion to support the three requests stated above. We also request the Honourable Members to monitor the operation of the Government in order to ensure that the relevant government departments would take into full account the views of the general public when formulating relevant policies.

Contact person: Ms WONG Ling-hei (Mrs LEE) (transliteration) at 7200 7764