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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News
Issue 42 (Jan 2004)
Chief Executive's Column
Social Service Association in the Pearl Delta
Chief Exectuive
NG Shui Lai

The relationship of Hong Kong and Pearl Delta is getting closer everyday. The sanction of CEPA between Hong Kong SAR and the Central Government in Beijing embarks on this reality. Although the two governments, including the general public, tend to view the relationship from an economic perspective, the breakout of SARS epidemic earlier this year shockingly brings in another angle, that is the social aspect, for almost everyone to realize the close link between the two places. As the association between the two areas expands, it is necessary to consider many important social implications.

Cross-border economic integration effects various degrees of changes in the social structure of the people that are likely reflected in their lifestyle. For instance, there are increasing numbers of households that have family members reside and work in cities other than their hometowns all over Pearl Delta. As a result, issues such as adjustments among family members toward such temporal separation and the social welfare agencies roles in providing appropriate support or intervention if and when problems within these families arise. Another aspect of social issues that surely call for attention is teenage narcotic addiction when there seems to be an emerging trend for young people to cross over the border for drugs. Youth workers are challenged under the circumstance when political boundaries are among many legitimate considerations.

In practice, there are various issues that the social welfare sector must resolve before it can effectively confront these new challenges. Commonly seen issues are 1) The two distinctively different social systems that may present certain judicial difficulties for social workers and staff to handle cross-border cases. 2) Extended budget in providing cross-border services that require additional traveling, insurance, and other incidental expenses. 3) In view of the current developing stage of social service sector in Mainland China, it presents a degree of difficulty in networking the necessary professionals, referrals and collaboration when dealing with social welfare situations.

In addition to contemplate the aspect of service delivery between Hong Kong and Pearl Delta in the Mainland, leaders in the social welfare sector must also consider strategically from a long-term perspective. The various social welfare roles represented in either places and their integration processes are among the fundamental elements that need to be addressed.

It is apparent that the social development is as important as the economic development in a society. If the social welfare integration of Hong Kong and Pearl Delta is to be successful and beneficial to all, the support given to the enhancement of such integration must not be overlooked.

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