I REFER to the report “Incestuous siblings to undergo counselling” (The Star, Jan 16) where the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister was quoted saying “we must not stop at just catching who is responsible or giving them ‘first aid’ but must also ensure that we have rehabilitation (programmes) for them,” in connection with the siblings from Kampar, Perak who were involved in an incestuous relationship.
For the deputy minister’s information, every child protection matter is brought to the court for children by the Protector under the Child Act 2001 (Amendments 2016). The magistrate, assisted by two advisors and after reading the report by the Protector, makes a decision on the case. The decision can include an order for parents to execute proper care and guardianship on their children, supervision by the Protector, children to attend counselling for a certain period and other conditions deemed necessary. There is no need for the Protector to make a police report to assist the child.
The Social Welfare Depart-ment needs urgent help from the ministry to push the Social Workers Profession Bill through Parliament. The Bill was drafted in 2011 with assistance from a consultant from Australia who was sponsored by Unicef. The Social Workers Profession Act will ensure that all social workers are qualified and trained. The Public Service Commission can then recruit graduates and diploma holders in this field to work in the Social Welfare Department.
There are at least seven universities in Malaysia offering degree courses in social work and there are thousands of such graduates but most do not get recruited by the Public Service Commission. With their passion to do social work dashed, they end up working in banks and other companies in the private sector.
The Malaysian Association of Social Workers together with representatives from universities and officers from the Social Welfare Department have met ministry officials, including its legal officers, umpteen times since 2011 on this matter. All the other stakeholders have also been consulted. What then is holding up the decision?
In the interest of children, the disabled, elderly and all the target groups, I am asking the minister to please support the Bill. The Social Welfare Department needs professional social workers urgently.