EOC Organizes Public Forum to Strengthen Liaison with Stakeholders
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) organized a Public Forum today (23 September 2013) to obtain stakeholders’ views for better steering of its work.
The Forum is the EOC’s largest annual outreach event, which provides a platform for stakeholders to share their views on enhancing the Commission’s work in promoting equal opportunities in Hong Kong. The event was well received with an attendance of 400 representatives from NGOs, concern groups, business organizations, government departments, employers’ organizations and unions.
Kicking off the second EOC Forum, Dr. York CHOW, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “The EOC is consistently looking for ways to improve its work and services to the public. We hope to understand the views and concerns of various stakeholders so that our work is able to meet the community’s needs and expectations.”
To enhance transparency and accountability, the Commission’s past performance and new initiatives were presented at the Forum.
Dr. CHOW introduced the EOC’s Three-year Strategic Plan with five priority areas, which included the review of the discrimination ordinances, seeking legal protection for sexual minorities, advocating equal education and employment opportunities for ethnic minorities students and students with special educational needs, as well as advocating a functional approach in addressing the needs of persons with disabilities by the Government.
In elaborating the EOC’s on-going undertakings, Dr. CHOW in particular highlighted the EOC’s initiative to enhance accessibility in Hong’s Kong’s built environment as well as information and communication technologies. He emphasized the importance of universal design in ensuring the full integration of all people into our society.
“Building on work from previous years and new areas identified from meetings with community groups, we hope that our strategic priorities can address more fully the needs of society in these times of changing needs and achieve real progress on equality,” said Dr. CHOW.
In reviewing the Commission’s financial management, Ms. Susanna CHIU, Convenor of the Administration and Finance Committee, emphasized that the EOC abides by the principle of prudence. She explained that the EOC attaches great importance to economy, efficiency and effectiveness. She also stressed that to ensure sustainability in development, the EOC will continue to maintain high standards of corporate governance, accountability and transparency in its operations.
Mr. Amirali Bakirali NASIR, Convenor of the Legal and Complaints Committee, explained the EOC’s efforts in improving its operational efficiency by shortening the average complaints handling time. The successful conciliation rate for 2012/13 was enhanced to 72%. During the year, the EOC answered over 16,600 enquiries and handled around 930 complaints. 76% of the complaints received by the EOC during the year were employment-related. By respective Ordinance, 56% of the complaints were on the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), 35% were on Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), 6% were on Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), and 3% were on Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO).
Mr. NASIR pointed out that through conciliation and legal settlement, the EOC secured about $9.9 million of monetary payment for its complainants in 2012/13. Other remedies included improvements to facilities and accessibility, change of policies and apologies.
Dr. John TSE Wing-ling, Convener of the Policy and Research Committee, explained the EOC’s strategies to influence Government policies through pioneering policy studies and research initiatives that analyze social phenomena caused by discrimination. Dr. TSE introduced the EOC’s new initiatives to study discrimination in the workplace, age discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. He also presented the Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign, which engaged the stakeholders from the education, business and health sectors in a series of promotional and educational programmes to eliminate sexual harassment.
Ms. Garling WONG Ka-ling, Convenor of the Community Participation and Publicity Committee, said that public education was essential in raising awareness on equal opportunities values and changing discriminatory attitudes in the community. In order to reach out to the public effectively, the EOC makes good use of the mass media and on-line technology. Smart phone Apps and videos with audio descriptions were developed to facilitate public access to the EOC’s information. The EOC website has also been strengthened to include the EOC Blog to enable the public to better understand the EOC’s on-going work.
Ms. WONG added that the EOC’s public education programmes for different sectors of the community would be strengthened to mainstream the culture of equal opportunities in the society. Training and tailor-made workshops will be offered to both public and private organizations to enhance compliance with the equal opportunities laws.
In conclusion, Dr. CHOW said, “We believe that a concern for anti-discrimination and equal opportunities is no longer a minority interest in Hong Kong. In translating the shared aspiration towards greater equality into practical changes, the government, a wide range of people and organizations, as well as the EOC have to play their parts. By working together with people at all levels, the EOC will strive to attain a high level of fairness and social justice, and build a community with equal opportunities for all.”
For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
23 September 2013