Western Cape Minister of Social Development
Note: The following speech was delivered by Minister Albert Fritz during the Budget Vote 19 debate in the NCOP Chamber yesterday evening.
Honourable Madam Chairperson,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Western Cape Department of Social Development has worked very hard to improve the efficiency and reach of social development services in this province.
I took cognizance of the Budget Speech as delivered by the Honourable Minister Bathabile Dlamini, and applaud the call to declare 2014/15 the year of people with disabilities.
However such a call needs to be followed by a tangible commitment to delivery and empowerment of people living with disabilities.
This goal can be achieved if we adopt a whole-of-society approach involving all spheres of government, including building partnerships with the private sector, NGOs, and individuals. This is what Better Together means.
Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly set-out how we as a Provincial Department will respond to this Budget Speech and deliver on the agenda of hope, progress, development, and opportunity for the people of this beautiful province.
Madam Chair, our delivery record speaks for itself in every area that we have prioritised so far, and we will continue to drive in the term ahead:
Chair, people living with disabilities have historically been neglected in South Africa. This cannot continue, and although the National Ministers words are encouraging, what we need is action.
As such, my department is leading the WC Premier’s special project in partnership with the NGO sector to identify and assist children with disabilities not currently accessing services. This includes a referral pathway that, when used properly, will ensure that children access the best available services in the shortest possible time. We are capacitating social workers, NGOs, community development workers and home-based carers in this regard. We are also training foster care parents to better care for disabled children.
- Substance abuse
Chair, the National Minister’s allocation of R150-million to establish treatment centres in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and the Free State should be welcomed. In this regard, the Honourable Minister can learn greatly from the ground-breaking approach this Provincial Government has taken.
Another Matrix Treatment Clinic is on the cards for Atlantis, and we have embarked on an innovative outpatient Opiate Substitution Treatment programme in Mitchell’s Plain. The project has now been running for six months, and its clients are responding positively. Indeed 16 out of 21 clients (76.5%) completed their statuary phase and are still testing negative for illicit substance use in their continuum of care.
The quality of services that people receive at the various treatment centres is very important to us and as such we have contracted the Medical Research Council (MRC) to conduct a service quality measurement (SQM) survey across the spectrum of treatment centres. I believe the National Minister should look into doing the same for the four provinces she mentioned.
- On SASSA abuse
The Minister’s announcement of a Ministerial Task Team to investigate abuse of SASSA grant recipients is welcomed first step. However we will continue to put pressure on SASSA, to get their house in order so that our older persons, indeed ALL grant recipients, can be treated with the respect, dignity and care they deserve, when it comes to accessing their social security grants. The blatant disregard for their human rights is insulting and unacceptable.
A month ago I held a press conference to expose the blatant abuse of grant recipients at the hands of SASSA and their service provider, CPS. Since then my telephone has been ringing non-stop, from people all over the country, begging me to take up their issues. I will continue to fight their cause, and I will raise this matter at our next MINMEC with you Honourable Minister.
4. Youth Development
For the first time the province has a comprehensive youth development strategy, a strategy we are putting into practice in a number of key projects.
4.1 Chrysalis Academy
The Chrysalis Programme has grown so much that I can safely say that it is the best youth development programme of its kind in the country! Through the Chrysalis Academy, we have over the past 2 years placed nearly 1000 young people into work opportunities. This year, together with the Department of Community Safety, we are going to expand the Chrysalis programme to Wolwekloof.
4.2 Youth Café
Since launching the first youth café in Rocklands, Mitchell Plain in January and one at the Vangate Mall in July this year, over 837young people have registered at the cafés, in order to access its skills development services and support. The next youth cafés will be opening in this financial year in Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction.
- Child care and protection
Chair, the Children’s Act of 2008 has placed considerable – but in my view welcome – additional obligations on the state. Our department is committed to meeting the huge task.
We have already nearly doubled the number of social workers in the department in the last five years, from 388 in 2009 to 741 in 2014, largely in anticipation of this increased responsibility. We have expanded from one head office and 16 district offices to introduce 6 regional offices and 37 local offices across the province, thus improving access to services. However a lot more must be done to develop the level of skills and specialization of our staff in this field.
Chair, the Honourable National Minister knows that the years ahead will require hard work and commitment from the whole DSD team, and we as a province are determined to play our part and deliver. Key to this will be to adopt a whole-of-society approach. Success is best achieved “Better Together”.