Advisory Board to Social Development Bill (Developmental Welfare Governance Board Bill); Street Universe: briefing

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WELFARE AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT PORTOFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
27 March 2001
ADVISORY BOARD ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT BILL (DEVELOPMENT WELFARE GOVERNANCE BILL): BRIEFING


Chairperson: Ms L. Jacobus

Relevant Documents
Development Welfare Governance Bill [B43-00]
Advisory Board on Social Development Bill [B43B-00]
Departmental Briefing on Advisory Board on Social Development Bill (See Appendix 1)
Street Universe - a brief overview (See Appendix 2)

SUMMARY
Street Universe, an NGO dealing with the rehabilitation of street children in the Western Cape, briefed the committee on their activities. The objective of Street Universe is to find out why children go to the streets and to provide them with a safe haven. She noted that most street kids have a background of emotional and physical abuse. Street Universe hopes that networking with the Committee can be explored.

The Committee were briefed on the Advisory Board on Social Development Bill (formerly named the Development Welfare Governance Bill). The Department maintained that despite its name change and the complete redrafting of several clauses before it was voted on by the National Assembly, the Bill retained its original character.

MINUTES
Street Universe
Ms Thomas of the Street Universe, an NGO dealing with the rehabilitation of street children, addressed the Committee on the salient issue of how the Committee could be of assistance to her organisation's programmes. Ms Thomas gave the Committee a brief overview of her organisation's activities. Their work involved tracking down street children in the Western Cape and providing them with shelter, food and other rehabilitative services.

She added that they also track street children detained by the police and correctional services to ensure their interests are protected. She explained further that her organisation employs well-trained social workers that, in addition, attend court whenever street kids are arraigned. She concluded that most street kids have a background of emotional and physical abuse, which forces them to take refuge on the streets. Her experience with street kids, she informed the Committee, has so far taught her that most street kids are eager to leave the streets if offered some alternative activity.

Discussion
In reply to a question by Ms Gouws (DP), Ms Thomas said her organisation, which commenced operations only last year, had not spread its wings to other provinces. She hoped, however, to reach out to these areas once enough capacity had been built within the organisation.

The Chair sought to know whether the NGO networked with other relevant bodies to which Ms Thomas responded that the NGO world was a closed shop. She lamented that it was very difficult to network in this industry.

The Chair asked if the NGO solicits for funding at all. Ms Thomas explained that it was only this year that the organisation had considered the idea of seeking funding. She stated that it was her idea to try out without outside funding and see how far they could hold out before soliciting for funds.

Ms Witbooi (NNP) asked if the NGO received any form of assistance from members of the public. Ms Thomas said that many volunteers who are ready and willing to work with the kids had inundated her organisation with offers. This shows that members of the public are keen to see the kids off the streets.

Dr. Nel (NNP) asked if the NGO has received cooperation from the Child Protection Unit to which Ms Thomas replied in the affirmative.

Ms Gouws (DP) asked for the percentage of boys to girls that the NGO dealt with to which Ms Thomas replied that the number for both genders was more or less the same.

The Chair then allowed two minor street children present to address the committee, which they did in Afrikaans. In short, the youth appealed to all people of goodwill both in government and civil society to empower them in a manner that would uplift them from the streets. They added that they had undergone tremendous emotional and physical abuse on the streets and dread going back.

The Chair thanked the NGO for its presentation. She promised future interaction with them so as to offer both moral and emotional support to their noble work

Advisory Board on Social Development Bill
Mr De Beer, the presenter, summarised his comments since the Chair pointed out that committee members had read the Bill.

Mr De Beers said that the name of the Bill and the established body have been changed. He explained that the change of the name was necessary as the department had changed its name. He continued that the Powers of the Council and the executive committee in the name of 'Development Welfare Council' had been rejected. In its place a National Advisory structure in the social development sector as spelled out in the Bill's preamble is preferred.

Mr De Beer also pointed out that the composition of the Board has been changed to cover the role players on the ground eg the media people. He said that clause 6 (a) was amended to allow a non-South African citizen who has permanent residence to be eligible for appointment. He explained that the opposite view would have been unconstitutional.

Mr De Beer, pointed out that clause (10)(1)(a) makes provision for departmental officials to serve on the secretariat which will give people in the department an opportunity to be of service in this regard.

The Chair advised members that this is a section 75 Bill that precludes political parties present from challenging the amendments.

Discussion
Both Mr Mkhaliphi (ANC) Ms Witbooi noted that at the end of the Bill that there was a discrepancy as to whom had been consulted on the Bill in that it stated that the Kwazulu Natal Department of Welfare had been consulted while it put the provincial government in Mpumalanga. Mr De Beer acknowledged the discrepancy and promised to address it.

The Chair emphasised the importance of consistency in these processes. She questioned why historically Black Universities do not appear to have been consulted. Mr De Beers replied that as far as he is concerned all the universities and provinces had been consulted. The State Law Office, he explained, had chosen which institutions to include in the list.

The Chair again sought to know why paragraph 3(a)(3), which sought measures to eradicate poverty, had been deleted. Mr De Beer explained that the rationale is that the inclusion of one is the exclusion of others. If the Bill has to list all areas of interest it can not cover every conceivable situation. The general manner in which the subject is covered in the first paragraph is sufficient, he added.

The Chair asked members to go to their respective parties and study the Bill in preparation for the deliberations on the Bill the following week The Chair said that in her view the final deliberations are set to run smoothly and she does not envisage any controversy. The meeting adjourned at this point.

Appendix 1:
ADVISORY BOARD ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT BILL, 2001

This Bill which was introduced in Parliament as the Developmental Welfare Governance Bill was approved by the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on 28 February 2001.

During 1996 the National Interim Consultative Committee on Developmental Social Services (NICC) was appointed and inaugurated by the then Minister for Welfare and Population Development in order to, amongst others, make recommendations on the nature and constitution of a permanent structure which would consolidate partnership between the state and civil society.

The report submitted by the NICC to the Minister during 1997 promoted a structure that is guided by the principles of inclusivity, representation, diversity, transparency, mutual accountability, autonomy and partnership.

A draft Bill which was the end-product of the NICC's work was submitted to the former Minister by Dr Jo Seoka, the Chairperson of the NICC on 31 May 1999.

The Bill was approved by Departmental Committee for Developmental Social Services (DCDSS) in July 1999 and forwarded to the provinces for comment.

The Department and the DCDSS again discussed the Bill in August 1999, proposed changes to the Bill and then approved the Bill.

The Bill was then referred to MINMEC who approved the Bill in September 1999 and Cabinet approved the Bill on 1 December 1999.

The Bill was submitted to the State Law Advisers for review and certification on 13/12/99 and
published for comment on 17/12/99. Closing date 17/1/2000. The date was extended to
31/1/2000. On 1/2/2000 the PC requested the Department to invite further comments - that was
done - closing date 6 March 2000. The Bill was finally introduced in Parliament in October
2000.

During 2000/1 the PC and the Department met on a number of occasions to discuss the contents of the Bill. Public hearings were held during February 2001.

On 28 February 2001 the Portfolio Committee agreed to a number of amendments to the Bill and then approved of the Bill.

Amongst others the name of the Bill changed from Developmental Welfare Governance to Advisory Board on Social Development which is also the name of the established body. All reference to welfare was omitted and substituted with social development.

The main object of the Bill is to make provision for the establishment and constitution of the new Board which is intended to act as an advisory body to the Minister and which will facilitate and consolidate participation of civil society and government interaction at various levels.

Some of the main objectives of the Board will be to -
(a) advise the Minister on measures to promote the transformation and continuous improvement of social development services, and to advise the Minister on measures to include local government in the provision of integrated service delivery;

(b) act as a consultative forum for the Minister to discuss social development matters, including the facilitation of consultation between stakeholders and government regarding the implementation of social development and the introduction of new policy in the government and non-governmental environment.

It is envisaged that the Board will consist of between nine and eleven members of whom at least eight shall be persons who have knowledge, experience and are actively involved in the social development sector. The Board must hold at least three meetings each year and it is assumed that those meetings will each last two days.

Based on current tariffs the chairperson and members will be paid fees and travelling and subsistence allowances amounting to R93 700,00. Professional advisory services may amount to R100 000,00.

The Bill also provides that the Director-General must designate officers to the Board to assist the Board in the proper performance of its duties.

All in all the financial implication of this Bill for the State may amount to approximately R350 000 per annum.

The said provisions arise out of a consultative process in which the views of stakeholders (well over seventy submissions were received) both within government and civil society were canvassed

The Department of Social Development and the State Law Advisers are of the opinion that the Bill must be dealt with by Parliament in accordance with the procedure set out in section 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The Bill deals with national policy on social development and not welfare services as contemplated in Schedule 4 of the Constitution. The national Minister of Social Development will administer this Act.

Appendix 2:
STREET UNIVERSE - A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Creating opportunities and structures for the street children and youth, as well as the broader community, for their mutual upIiftment

The aim of Street Universe is to create opportunities and structures for hardened child or youth and the broader community; for their mutual upliftment. This will be accomplished by ensuring that each street hardened child and youth currently living on the streets of the Cape Town Unicity, receives the appropriate support, opportunities and intervention (away from the urban areas) that they require in order to become self-sustainable members of our community. Once established in Cape Town, the Street Universe model will be replicated in other communities throughout Africa.

During the past 14 months Street Universe has consolidated its position through hands-on interaction and learning through personal experience. My business-partner (ex-film producer, Linzi Thomas) and I (ex-fitness trainer for the South African cricket team) believe that it is to our advantage that we are not social workers and our fresh approach has resulted in many early successes.

The Street Universe community is specifically the people on the streets of Cape Town, Sea Point, Green Point and Claremont. The project provides a comprehensive service on a daily basis where we provide personal individualised support, outreach programs, medical assistance, assist in disputes and generally act as a voice for people who have been alienated by society. In addition we work with the various role players in the environment that both affects and is affected by the street people. Specifically we work with other organizations in order to prevent duplication of services.

Using our comprehensive database of the children and youth, and based on the street peoples input, our next objective is a rural development program. This will provide rehabilitation from past negative experiences, away from the influences of city life, and will provide a wide variety of opportunities in which to create a long-term sustainable future for each individual.

Our approach in the establishment of Street Universe is to create an effective organisation that is run on sound business principles. Everything we do is executed professionally, with integrity and we hold ourselves personally accountable to our supporters and to the street people. We have complete buy-in from the children and youth with whom we work as well as various government structures.

Paddy Upton
Project Manager - Street Universe

Web site: www.streetuniverse.org.za
email: friends@streetuniverse.org.za
81 Bree Street Cape Town 8001 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)21 4244377
Bringing the StreetKidz Home!

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