The Social & Community Development Committee (SCDC) held their monthly meeting on Wednesday, 11 July 2018, with Stephanie Jones attending her first meeting as Director of Safeguarding.
The first item saw the CEO of the Equality & Human Rights Commission highlighting some of the Commission's key issues outlined in their annual report. Concerns included Government Landlord Housing, equality of arms, decision makers having to rely on redacted documents, the fear of reprisals from speaking up, and the need for legislation to protect the private sector from discrimination. The Committee noted these concerns and agreed to take them forward on the basis of evidence. It was also noted that the Prison Inquiry had been completed.
Members, together with the Director and President of the St Helena National Trust/Council, agreed proposals for a public consultation exercise on the St Helena National Trust (Amendment) Bill. The draft Bill is currently with the Attorney General's Chambers for a final legal check before it is submitted to Executive Council to agree for public consultation. Present plans are for one public meeting to be held in Jamestown plus coverage in the media via radio and newspaper. Written submissions may also be sent to the Committee's Secretary. The purpose of the amended Bill is to further regulate the powers and procedures of the Trust and the composition and procedures of the Trust Council.
The Committee gave approval to the proposed timetable relating to the processing of an Information Bill which covers Freedom of Information (FOI) and Data Protection. This had recently been discussed and supported by all Elected Members. The proposed Bill is intended to provide access to information held by public bodies and to provide protection for the processing of personal information. Members noted that starting shortly and throughout August, it is planned to have initial consultations with key stakeholders including the media, SHG Employee Representative Committee, large employers, Chamber of Commerce, and others. Public consultations are planned to be held in November and hopefully the Bill should be ready for debate in Legislative Council after 1 February 2019. The timetable can be found here: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/
A draft Threshold Policy was presented to the Committee by the Head of Adult Services, Victoria Kellett. This proposed policy is intended to identify and clarify levels of need within the remit of Adult Services. A review of the Home Care Support Policy will also be undertaken to refocus on needs.
An update was given by the Deputy Chairman, Councillor Cyril Leo, on progress made by the Social Security Review Working Group. Options and principles, according to the work carried out to date, will be brought to the next monthly Committee meeting.
Councillor Derek Thomas, Committee representative on the Immigration Working Group, reported that the review of the Immigration Ordinance was nearing completion and that the St Helenian status issue will be discussed with all Councillors before submitting the full review of the Immigration Ordinance to the Committee.
A special Committee meeting will be held to discuss the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). Previously, Executive Council agreed for a MIS uplift to be done every six months instead of on a yearly basis so that it can respond to help those on lower incomes.
The Committee also noted that Councillor Derek Thomas has been appointed as the new Children's Champion.
In an update on Safeguarding by the new Director, the following was reported:
The formal report by Gavin (Jack) Thomas, Quality Assurance Consultant, is being finalised
Work is continuing to establish links with the National Autistic Society (NAS) to support St Helena in developing a specialist service subject to obtaining the necessary additional funding
The Home Care Service remains in a fragile situation but if funding can be secured then the Directorate will be able to ensure the correct employment rights for this group of staff
The Fostering Service is also dependent on funding whilst also noting that the Fostering Regulations, policies, and practice, are already in place
The works at the Community Care Centre (CCC) are nearly completed and plans are in place to move residents back to the CCC by 13 July
The recent visit by FCO Senior Child Protection Advisor, Michael Cotterall, and CEO Children & Family Court Advisory Support Services (CAFCASS), Anthony Douglas, was very successful. They visited to undertake an audit of child protection and vulnerable adult services on the Island. Initial feedback received was that Children Services are working very well and they supported the proposed strengthening of Adult Services. Their final report will include a number of recommendations to ensure services to children, families and vulnerable adults are improved and sustained.
The SCDC comprises of voting members Councillors Anthony Green (Chairman), Cyril Leo (Deputy Chairman), Kylie Hercules, Derek Thomas and Gavin Ellick. Non-voting members are the Director of Safeguarding and the Government Economist. The Committee Secretary is Nicole Plato.
Source: St Helena Government