“As active stakeholders with primary access to the realities and challenges on the ground, CSOs can effectively help the government collate data, providing inputs at the grassroots level for incorporation into our programmes and policies,” Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Senator Heng Seai Kie said.
She said a good example of such collaboration was the development of Childline 15999, a child-friendly 24-hour hotline service for children to call and report child maltreatment cases.
“The Talian Nur 15999 24-hour hotline number is also accessible to anyone for reporting suspected child abuse and other social ills afflicting families and societies,” she said at a three-day (Nov 4 to 6, 2010) high-level meeting on child rights development here.
“Together with UNICEF, Malaysia is setting the agenda for the child and family welfare and juvenile justice reform.
“We acknowledge that there is a need to review our current legal and policy frameworks to capture the current realities of an ever changing society afflicting middle income countries.
“This includes the development of a Social Workers Act which is due to be tabled in Parliament in 2011, and upgrading our primary, secondary and tertiary education services.
“In this regard, Malaysia has undertaken significant responses and intervention measures such as the deployment of child protectors and the establishment of child activity centres and child care home,” she said.
Heng said changing times brought about new social complexities, encompassing issues challenging abused children, the neglected and mistreated.
“Mechanisms, legislation and policies that were previously put into place might not necessarily address evolving needs sufficiently. Some of the woes include:
- SHORTFALLS in certified professional staff to handle primary, secondary and tertiary interventions;
- LEGAL and policy frameworks that do not capture the current realities of a changing society that a middle income country is facing;
- CURRENT service structures are inadequate to handle complex issues faced by women, family and children; and
- INTER-MINISTRY linkages need to be strengthened to effectively address pressing issues, for example in the areas of reproductive health and education, human trafficking and stateless children.
“Appropriate interventions at different levels are necessary for us to remain effective and relevant. Child abuse can be prevented and proactive measures must be institutionalised in our evolving child protection system,” Heng said.