Throne Speech: More help for old, children and disabled promised
Plans to support children, seniors and vulnerable people were outlined yesterday when the Government vowed to “drive a movement of change” for Bermuda.
John Rankin, the Governor, said that there will also be help for those leaving the public care system and entering adulthood.
Reading the Throne Speech on behalf of the Government, he said: “The investment in the success of young people will extend to those most in need of support.
“To fill the void that exists when young people ’age out’ of Government care, the Government will establish Independent Living Coordinators who will devise individual plans for our young people coming out of care, to provide affordable housing options, postsecondary education and career advice as well as access to physical and mental healthcare.”
He added that the “outdated“ Child Care Placement Board will be replaced by a Children’s Commission, ”whose remit will be to advocate for the children in care, promoting best practice policy, programmes and service responses to meet their needs“.
Kelly Hunt, the executive director at The Coalition for the Protection of Children, said yesterday: “We are encouraged that the Government recognises the gap in services when in comes to our youth who have ’aged out’ of the system.
“Our young people not only need but deserve the support as they come out of care and integrate into society.
“Assistance is required so that these young adults aren’t left vulnerable and/or disenfranchised.
“Therefore, it is commendable that there will be individualised services here.”
Ms Hunt said that the CPC wanted to see continued efforts to safeguard children.
She highlighted that a “child friendly justice system” and compliance with the Lanzarote Convention – a Council of Europe treaty dedicated to the protection of children from sexual violence – would be “integral to Bermuda’s forward progress”.
Ms Hunt added: “We look forward to working with Government to ensure that the best interests of our children continue to be at the forefront of the agenda.”
Mr Rankin said that the Government will also set up an Office of the Public Guardian to provide independent services and support.
It will cater to "seniors, children and other vulnerable persons in circumstances where they are unable to make decisions for themselves in the management of their health, financial or legal affairs“.
The Governor said caring for seniors and helping them to age with dignity was a community effort.
He added: “All data demonstrate a demographic trend towards living longer and increasing numbers of citizens proudly wearing the title ’senior’.
“Therefore, the Government will develop and invite the Legislature to consider a National Seniors Strategy, with particular emphasis on dementia care and a prevention plan for seniors’ abuse.”
Mr Rankin said: “To enshrine the rights of differently abled persons, the Government will seek the extension to Bermuda of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, reaffirming that all persons, irrespective of their type of disability, must enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms.”
He told MPs and senators: “The unequal beginnings of the different races in Bermuda have culminated in a history that is in degrees untold or not agreed.
“The ongoing Commission of Inquiry into Historic Land Losses is one such exercise in achieving a correct telling and agreed account of our history.
“Black people, in particular, have often been deprived of a history told through their experiences.
“The importance of this to the development of later generations cannot be underestimated.
“The Guyanese scholar and social justice champion Dr Walter Rodney spoke of what he termed ’a series of responsibilities’ of black people, the most important of which ’is to define our own situation’.
“An unresolved history is a divider that impacts our cultural identity.”
Mr Rankin added: “During this session, the legislature will be invited to discuss a National Cultural Heritage Policy for Bermuda.
“This policy will combine those strands that jointly speak of Bermuda’s uniqueness and shared identity with those peoples from whom we are descended.
“One history, many cultures, a shared cultural identity.”