All is not well in welfare work
A gloomy outlook confronts the social services sector. As gleaned from media reports and official announcements, over the past 10 years, the government has shifted the duty of caring for the underprivileged from itself onto social welfare organisations.
This shift has added to the workload and burden of responsibility among social workers. According to social welfare groups, many have chosen to leave the sector, adding even more problems for already overloaded organisations. Hiring in the sector, however, remains buoyant amid growing demand for social workers.
According to their team leaders, many social workers are unhappy with the way their groups are now financed. In 2000, the government stopped reimbursing all expenses and shifted to annual lump-sum grants. Social welfare groups have since faced tight budgets, which has caused tensions between front-line staff and management. Social workers have said that tighter budgets have also affected quality of service and staff morale.
Some front-line staff are so dissatisfied that they have formed a union. They have been actively organising protests and demonstrations to voice out their dissatisfaction over how the system is now run. They demand that the government cancel the lump-sum grant, increase social worker salaries, and provide better employment benefits all round.