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The EOC Reports on Work Plans and Progress

19/03/2015

Members of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met on 19 March 2015 (Thursday) at the 109th EOC Meeting and discussed various matters related to the Commission’s business, including the latest work progress of the EOC’s strategic priorities.

Briefing Members on the initiatives of the Commission, Dr. York CHOW, Chairperson of the EOC said: “In 2013, we identified five priority areas in our three-year strategic plan: (1) Discrimination Law Review; (2) legal protection for sexual minorities from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; (3) education and employment opportunities for ethnic minorities; (4) integrated education for students with special educational needs; and (5) disability discrimination in the performance of Government functions. We are pleased to report that we have achieved good progress on these areas in the past year.”

On the Discrimination Law Review, Members noted that the EOC is aiming to publish a report on the public submissions, which will include quantitative and qualitative analysis by the Commission, in the latter half of 2015. In addition, the EOC is planning to submit a report on the Commission’s findings and recommendations to the Government by end 2015.

As for the Feasibility Study on Legislating against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status (the Study), which has been commissioned to the Gender Research Centre of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia Pacific Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the research team has completed the relevant fieldwork and is now working on the Study report, which is expected to be ready by the second half of 2015.

Meanwhile, the EOC has provided funding under the Funding Programme of Research Projects on Equal Opportunities for a study on “Security Services in the Work with Trans People that would lead to Sexual Harassment”. The findings of the study would be announced on 30 March 2015.

Another major item discussed by Members at the meeting was the establishment of the EOC’s Multi-Ethnic Task Force, which is designed to promote the equal education and employment opportunities of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. “The EOC has named ensuring equal opportunities in education and employment for ethnic minorities one of our strategic priority work areas. Yet beyond these two areas, ethnic minorities also face various other challenges in their daily life, notably access to services,” said Dr. Chow. “In order to overcome these barriers, we need to mobilise collaborative partnerships across different sectors, so that more structured and systematic support can be provided to our ethnic minority communities. We also need to step up public education and promotion to cultivate inclusive values in our society.”

“With the formation of the Task Force and funding provided by the Government, we are going to roll out a series of campaigns and activities starting from April 2015,” said Dr. Chow. “Our strategies are to strengthen the systemic support for ethnic minority students in learning Chinese, enhance the employment opportunities of ethnic minorities, and deepen social understanding and inclusion by promoting greater cultural sensitivity across different sectors.”

The Task Force aims to address the needs of the ethnic minorities through three key aspects of work: policy, training and outreach. At the policy level, the Task Force will lobby and influence the Government, public and private sectors, as well as business operators and employers to develop policies and guidelines that facilitate equal opportunities for ethnic minorities, such as employing more ethnic minorities. In terms of training, the Task Force will provide cultural sensitivity training for practitioners in different sectors, including banking, education, property management, real estate, and transport through talks and workshops, as well as developing an online training module. For outreach, the Task Force will strengthen network with NGO and ethnic minority groups, and conduct regular meetings with service providers and ethnic minority community leaders to understand the needs and difficulties of ethnic minorities.

Regarding the support for students with special educational needs (SEN), EOC Members noted that the Commission would closely monitor the implementation of the support measures mentioned by the Chief Executive in the 2015 Policy Address, and assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the measures. To address the issue of inadequate support for non-Chinese speaking students with SEN, the EOC has urged the Government to review the situation and work with both public and private schools to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, the EOC will continue to advocate for a “central coordinating mechanism” to coordinate inter-departmental efforts in terms of policy formulation, resource allocation and implementation of integrated education in Hong Kong.

On the EOC’s effort to tackle disability discrimination, EOC Members took note that the Commission has funded a research project on “Disability Awareness: A Baseline Study in the Property Management Sector”, which findings will be released on 27 March 2015. The research will serve to support the EOC’s advocacy work, as Hong Kong faces an aging population and an increased number of persons with disabilities – from 5.2% in 2007 to 8.1% or 578,600 out of the total population in 2013 – which calls for an ever greater need to eliminate disability discrimination in the provision of services and facilities, including barrier-free access.

At the meeting today, EOC Members also reviewed the work of the Commission in 2014. Members noted that the number of public enquiries, which totalled 20,089, remained at more or less the same level as in 2013, while the number of complaints received stood at 606, as compared to 666 in 2013. Members also noted that the EOC’s training courses on equal opportunities and the anti-discrimination ordinances attracted over 26,700 participants, 7% more than in 2013. Furthermore, the number of talks and speeches delivered rose by 21% to almost 175, and the number of visits to the EOC website increased by 23.6% to over 1.64 million. All these reflected stronger public interest and concern about equal opportunity issues in the society.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
19 March 2015
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