A Call to Action: Highlight of Hon. Lisa Hanna’s Sectoral Presentation, 2015

Get ‘#connected to the truth’ was a highlight of the Hon. Lisa Hanna’s sectoral presentation to Parliament yesterday, as she opined that we, seemingly, have a society which has ‘lost its soul’, in relation to the acts of abuse and violence against our children. She implored Jamaicans particularly parents, the church, teachers, and communities to pay special attention to our children’s need for guidance, mentorship and protection.

She highlighted the government’s commitment to using every available tool to protect our children and youth from abuse and reiterated that where the rights of children are infringed, ‘perpetrators will be punished in accordance with our laws’. She however noted that the society must come to the realization that the protection of our children is not the responsibility of any one person, ministry or group. Minister Hanna appealed to the society to not condone acts of violence against children, but rather, every member of the society must view the protection of children as their duty.

Several strategies implemented over the last year to keep Jamaica’s children safe were highlighted, including:

  • An increase in the number of child investigators at the CDA and clearing of the backlog of 4000 reports last year, with an additional 10 investigators employed bringing the number up to 26.
  • An increase in the number of children being adopted, clearing the child adoption backlog of 900 cases with some cases as far back as 2003.
  • The implementation of a best practices programme for the standards at Maxfield Park Children’s’ Home, which involves extracurricular activities, mentorships, field trips and training which will be rolled out to the other homes this year.
  • An increase in the number of children being taken into foster care.
  • A reduction in the number of children that went missing by 10% and the return of 9 out of 10 children that went missing through a bolstered Ananda Alert System and partnerships.

The Ministry’s connection to youth through a number of youth programmes was presented as the Green Paper for the National Youth Policy 2015 – 2030. Minister Hanna explained that the revised National Youth Policy will take a positive approach to youth development for all young people, and will seek to be responsive to their needs through well structured partnerships within the public sector, the private sector, youth organisations, NGOs, faith-based organisations, academia and with our international development partners.

In addition, Minister Hanna outlined that her Ministry has been connecting to youth by going into their virtual spaces and increasing their online reach from 46,000 to over 117,000 registered users; they also met and reasoned with thousands of youth island wide through their “Pon Di Corna” reasoning; and they redoubled efforts for student advocacy so that over 300,000 students are now involved in the National Secondary Students Council and there is a fully functioning Student Council Structure with regional executive bodies. Since 2012 to date, they have trained and impacted over 51,000 young people and placed close to 36,519 in temporary jobs and other permanent positions.

Minister Hanna announced that the Blue and John Crow mountains was submitted for World Heritage status and the evaluators have recommended an inscription of the site to the World Heritage List, with the final decision resting with the World Heritage Committee which meets in June in Germany. Of even greater significance, the Blue and John Crow Mountains will be the first mixed site in the Caribbean, meaning it is nominated for its outstanding cultural and natural values. This means that Jamaica is indeed building its presence in World Heritage as we prepare to serve in the second sitting of our four year term as members of the prestigious World Heritage Committee.

After her presentation in Parliament, Minister Hanna then attended a youth leaders meeting, hosted at her Ministry’s Head Office, to garner feedback and questions from the 100 young people, on the issues presented in her speech that is of direct relevance to them.

A complete version of the Minister’s presentation can be downloaded here.