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Chairperson's Message

 

 

Last year saw the 60th Anniversary of the Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention, Hong Kong (“the Society”). Staffs and committee members had actively participated in the celebration activities. While reviewing its past, the Society keeps rethinking about its future strategic development and positioning in Hong Kong community.

Undoubtedly, offender rehabilitation service has all along been the axis of service development of the Society. Government Departments, other Non-governmental Organizations ("NGOs"), or even overseas counterparts all recognize our contribution to the social rehabilitation for ex-offenders. Since 1990s, the Society has gradually extended our scope of services to mental recovery, crime prevention and also social enterprise.

With the change in social needs and ecological perspective of the social welfare sector, many NGOs have been adopting diversification strategy to operate multifarious programmes and to serve different clienteles. This kind of strategic change may allow the organizations to grasp opportunities of emerging services, expand the scale of service operation, as well as to reduce the risk of over-relying on traditional services. The Society is now facing this juncture.

With the continuing decline in crime rate and the gradual reduction in the number of inmates over the past ten years, the demand for quantity of offender rehabilitation services is declining. Under such circumstance, it seems unlikely for the Government to inject further resources for development of offender services. . In view of the presenting condition, should the Society enter into other service arenas, instead of still sticking mainly to offender rehabilitation services or services for mental recovery? This deserves us to think seriously.

Many NGOs have been operating social enterprises in recent years, but it is indeed full of challenges, and our social enterprise “Bright Services Company Ltd.” is no exception for encountering different difficulties. Nonetheless, operating social enterprises does bring a lot of inspirations to our staffs.

In the past, the concept of social impact was seldom discussed in the social welfare sector. The sector mainly focuses on the service demands and service outputs from a quantitative perspective. Whether the service can 涼effectively solve the problems claimed to be addressed, the measurement of social impact, and so on were rarely being mentioned.  Possibly it is due to the fact that measuring social impact could be time-consuming and controversial. However, with the social changes, stakeholders including service users, general public and the sponsoring Government Departments are now requesting NGOs to provide outcome and impact indicators to illustrate their social impact and results.

Knowing the challenges of operating social enterprise, staffs are receptive to the idea that for every penny spent, the produced services should be capable of satisfying customers’ need, or to solve their problems. Also to reconsider whether the services are capable of achieving the desired goals. This change in mindset will help our staffs to implement quality and impactful services.  In promoting our services, we are no longer just telling “cases”, but to support our proclamations with “figures and statistics”. And these figures do not merely mean service quantity, but on illustrating the qualitative outcome. Our staffs are well prepared for tackling the changes.

In past tradition, NGOs had followed closely the guidelines and regulations of the Government in their operation. Under the Lump Sum Grant ("LSG") subvention system, NGOs now shoulder heavier responsibilities in monitoring their services. To meet new service demands, NGOs are exploring alternative funding sources, and also have to fulfill the requirements of both the Social Welfare Department ("SWD") and funders. This somehow creates much pressure to the central administration of NGOs.  NGOs have to make continuous self-improvement and enhancement in order to support the development of their services.

Over the last few years, the Society has gradually aligned the employment terms and remuneration packages for all new recruits, narrowed the gap between the so called “snapshot” and “non-snapshot” staffs, reviewed and formulated a comprehensive job grading system. For striving a culture of high performance, a review and alignment mechanism for performance assessment has been adopted to reward staffs based on performance.

The Society has been comprehensively reviewing its financial management processes so as to streamline and reduce unnecessary procedures, in order to lessen frontline staffs’ pressure in handling the centres’ finance matters. In addition, to further strengthen the corporate governance, increase administrative efficiency and enhance accountability, the Society has set up the Corporate Communications Division, Information Technology and Talent Development Division, as well as carrying out periodic and irregular internal surprise audit to service units. To establish these new functions under the Central Administration not only has financial implication, but also add pressure to the management on resources allocation while fulfilling the stringent requirements of the Government.

The Society is a medium-small sized NGO, and it mainly relied on SWD subvention in the past. Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Government subvention has been declining, which implies that the Society has to establish new sources of funding for supporting its non-subvented services. In addition that it has to run the social enterprise projects, the Society will have to face the escalating challenges in its management, administration and governance.

Debates over LSG system went on and on. But the Society believes this system will anyway continue to exist in the many years to come. Therefore, how to ride on the merits of this system to develop the needed services, and to enhance service quality are the key challenges that every subvented NGO must address.

The Society has just celebrated its six decades of service in Hong Kong, and no matter what will be the challenges ahead, I believe that with the dedication and collaborative efforts of all Committee members and staffs, the Society shall overcome the difficulties and continue making contribution in building up a safe and inclusive society.

Patrick LI