||Last Updated: Aug 14, 2019 - 3:04:35 PM
Nassau, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie Campbell, headed into year two of his tenure full of optimism about the many possibilities that lay ahead for ministry and department officials to effect positive social change throughout the Commonwealth.
Mr. Campbell completed year-one of his tenure at the end of July 2019. He was appointed Minister of Social Services and Urban Development in July 2018, by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Hubert Minnis. Minister Campbell said he was excited, encouraged and satisfied with the achievements the Ministry and its Departments and Divisions have accomplished since his appointment.
Chief among them was what he called “the prudent management” of the Department of Social Services’ Budget that allowed social services officials to not only meet their many obligations to qualified families in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, but to accomplish their objectives “under budget.”
Minister Campbell also applauded the expanded roles of the Urban Renewal Commission and the Department of Gender and Family Affairs in order to address the social issues impacting Bahamians. He said the implementation of additional social protection systems for all Bahamians, but especially the children, the elderly, the community of persons with disabilities, and the vulnerable, should pay major dividends in years to come.
He also applauded the work of the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services, and also the work done at The Bahamas Centre for the Deaf, The Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, the Willie Mae Pratt School for Girls and the Simpson Penn School for Boys under the watchful eyes of the staff at the Facilities and Fleet Management Division, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, whose roles have been expanded.
Minister Campbell said officials are also continuing their work on legislation that will further ensure equity and inclusion for persons with disabilities and the protection of older persons. Parliamentary Secretary Michael A. Foulkes was brought in to lead that charge.
“There are a number of things that I can enumerate. I’m just proud to be a part of this team that is working towards ensuring that certain human resources needs of the team are addressed,” Minister Campbell said. “Significant attention has been given to establishing a Career Path for Social Workers; significant attention is being given to persons who are part of the Work Assistance Programme, many of whom have been on that programme for years, we are looking at ways in which we can regularize them.”
A premium has also been placed on staff training and personal development at the national, regional and international levels and have included courses and seminars on leadership, human resource management, disaster management and preparedness, trafficking in persons, enhancing professional image, ethical standards, succession planning, drug intervention strategies, and data collection and analysis among many other opportunities.
Additional training opportunities have come in the areas of climate change, social safety protection, crime and violence prevention, and capacity building for persons working with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, and hegemonic masculinity in the Caribbean.
Minister Campbell said the Ministry and its Departments and Divisions – in unison with the Government of The Bahamas -- will continue to work towards a reduction in poverty in The Bahamas, the empowerment of women and girls and men and boys, and the social protection of all citizens, but especially children, the elderly and the community of persons with disabilities.
“When you consider the 17 Goals set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030), to which UN Member States are working towards, the reduction of poverty stands out among them. Included with that is the empowerment of women and girls; the protection of women and girls and so that being a central focus, social protection is the one phrase that keeps coming to mind. Ensuring that there is the necessary social safety protection network in place to keep the most vulnerable amongst us safe and secure,” Minister Campbell added.
Ministry and Department officials are mandated to provide a myriad of services/programmes to the Bahamian public from child protection efforts, to financial assistance including rental, uniform, electricity, and burial assistance amongst many others, to after-school care, parenting classes, the care and protection of the elderly, food assistance, disaster management and mitigation, and the care and protection of children through the various children’s homes the ministry either manages and operates outright, or provides subventions to, through the formation of partnerships with private entities, including the church.
Ministry officials also work closely with the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit of the Ministry of Health, the Trafficking in Persons (TIPS) Unit, Ministry of National Security, in addition to its partnerships with various other government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society.
Work continues to reduce incidences of gender-based violence and violence in general, via programmes/initiatives implemented either by the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, the Department of Social Services, the Urban Renewal Commission and collaborations with the NGOs and government partners.
Efforts have also been made, and are being made, to enhance data collection in order to improve the lives of Bahamians and as part of the process of reporting to the international bodies to whose Conventions The Bahamas is a Signatory.
“I am proud that we had the opportunity to come together on an inter-ministerial basis to bring our data together to report to the international bodies as to what it is we are doing, and it isn’t merely for the sake of the international and bodies, but it is also a way of ensuring that we keep pace with the needs here locally, and that there is a point of reference,” Minister Campbell said.
“I am further proud of the fact that we have been able to arrange field visits into the Family Islands to ensure that our programmes are not merely Nassau-centric, and I was humbled to have led one of the largest delegations to the Commission on the Status of Women Meeting (CSW63 held at the United Nations, New York, in March).
“Additionally, I am proud of the fact that it appears that the message is getting out. It appears that people are becoming more aware of what it is we are doing here in Social Services; what we are doing in the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, what our concerns are for persons with disabilities; what our concerns are for our young persons be they male or female and then another highlight for me was being able to maintain and in some cases restore, what seems to be sustainable relationships with our NGOs mindful that no government can do it alone. It is important that our partnerships are strengthened to continue to assist throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
Minister Campbell says he anticipates similar, if not even greater successes over the ensuing year.
“All in all I think we had a great first year. We touched on a number of things. I realize that we have a bit more work to do and so I encourage our people to put their shoulders to the wheel and to know that they have in me, a Minister who is concerned about the work, but equally concerned about the people who are doing the work,” Minister Campbell concluded.
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