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International Family Day Speech

Address by the MEC for Social Development Northern Cape , Mr. Alvin Botes , on the occasion of the International Day for Families , at Concordia , Namakwa

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15 May 2013

Programme Director
MEC for…….
Members of the Media
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning , Goeie More ,

It is a privilege for me to address you on the commemoration of the International Day for Families , which gives us a platform to acknowledge the important role played by Families in society.

May 15 is celebrated as the International Day of the Family. This day highlights the importance of families. It aims at fostering equality, bringing a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities and employment opportunities.  

The family is the basic and natural unit of society, which plays a critical role of nurturing and caring for individual family members, from children, to youth, men, women, people living with disabilities and the older generation. Families bear the primary responsibility for the development, education and socialization of children. They provide material and non-material care and support to their members and are a backbone of intergenerational solidarity and social cohesion.  

Celebrating the International Day for Families also brings into focus the importance of family solidarity wherein members of the family work together to sustain the unit through challenges, trials and tribulations.

We all know is not easy living with one's family. With so many oddballs that make up a family, it is tough to find common ground. Yet, a family is the most refined of all human relationships. Mother, sister, brother, father, and you may make up a family. But what ties you all together is that invisible umbilical cord... the cord of love and sacrifice. It is cord that should never be cut as it is the cord that binds the family together.

The theme for this year’s event is Advancing Social Integration and Intergenerational solidarity within families and the communities, which is precisely about advancing all generations in a family and keeping that cord uncut and solid so that we can feed from one another.

Relationships between children and their parents, parents and grandparents, or children and their grandparents are called intergenerational relationships

Intergenerational solidarity mostly relates to reciprocal care, support and exchange of material and non-material resources between family members, typically younger and older generations.

The demographic transition, changes in family structures and living arrangements as well as migration often negatively impact intergenerational relations and solidarity.

Intergenerational programs are defined as activities that increase cooperation, interaction or exchange between any two generations. These programs purposefully bring together people of different age groups in ongoing, mutually beneficial, planned activities, designed to achieve specified program goals. At the same time, Intergenerational programs provide a supportive environment conducive to supporting emotional, intellectual, and social growth and physical activity.

The concept of intergenerational solidarity and programmes need to be emphasized within our province in order to promote social cohesion amongst families and communities.

On the 27 March 2013, we launched the Intergenerational Pilot Project in this very district of Namakwa in Calvinia at the Sonskyn Service Centre. It is a project that brings the youth, adults and older persons together.

Inter-generational programs are defined as activities that bring together individuals of different ages as partners to explore, study, and work towards a shared goal, which foster cooperation and promote interaction among generations including children, youth and older persons. These programs can be youth serving older persons, older persons serving youth, or youth and older adults serving together.

Research was conducted by the youth of Calvinia West, after they had been trained by the National office, to determine the needs of older persons in the area. The findings highlighted the need for inter-generational programmes, as well as economic empowerment programmes.

Ten beneficiaries, consisting of five older persons and youth each were identified and trained to implement a catering business, Sunshine Catering
Sunshine Catering is now ready to start operating as a fully-fledged catering business. As a next step they will register on the service provider databases of the different Government Departments to access catering opportunities, as well as functions within the community.
My appeal to the community of Concordia is for follow in the footsteps of Calvinia and see how a similar project can be initiated to enhance the relationship between all the generations of Concordia and surrounding areas.
The Benefits of Inter-Generational programs for the community are:


  • Inspires Collaboration: as it can unite community members to take action on public policy issues that address human needs across the generations.
  • Expands Services: Intergenerational community service programs can expand the level of services to meet more needs and address more issues.
  • Maximises Financial Resources: When groups represent young and old, funders are more likely to respond positively because they can see broad-based community support. Intergenerational programs can save money and stretch scarce resources by sharing sites and/or resources.

The Youth will benefit in the following ways:

  • Enhances Social Skills: Interaction with older persons enhances communication skills, promotes self-esteem, develops problem-solving abilities, and fosters friendships across generations. Positive attitudes are developed regarding sense of purpose and community service.
  • Increases Stability: Youth gain positive role models with whom they can interact on a regular basis. Older persons as volunteers help to provide youth with consistency through mentoring and coaching.

Benefits for Older Persons are:

  • Enhances Socialisation: Older persons remain productive, useful, and contributing members of society. They increase interaction with youth and engage more with one another to prevent isolation in later years.
  • Stimulates Learning: Older persons learn new innovations and technologies from their younger counterparts.

The Green Paper for families has been developed and it is in the process of finalization. The aim of the Green Paper is to promote family life and strengthen families in South Africa through adopting a holistic approach to families as compared to other policies or legislation that are primarily focusing on individuals.

It promotes the provision of integrated, coordinated and comprehensive social welfare services through collaborative partnership with government departments , NGO’s and civil society to address the diverse needs of families.

The policy framework further advocates for the establishment of a coordinating, implementing and monitoring structure which will
ensure that the best interest of the (3) groups  that is the  individual, the family and the community are achieved.
Through the Green  Paper on Families, we also seek to achieve the following:

  • Reaffirm relevance of a family as a critical unit in society.
  • To maximise the participation and commitment of all sectors in strengthening family life.
  • To ensure balance between work and family life.
  • To ensure that families have access to services.
  • Strengthening families so that they can be able to take care of children.

It is against this background that the Provincial Family Services Forum was launched on the 6 March 2013.The overall functions of the forum is as follows:

  • Promote networking ,joint program planning, implementation and monitor activities
  • Ensure mainstreaming of family issues
  • Advocate for families through the dissemination of information and education
  • Support , monitor and evaluate  the implementation of the White Paper
  • Facilitate the establishment of structures at district level
  • Guide and direct process of ensuring that services reach the designated families.

The strengthening of families and communities to foster social cohesion in the Province will only be realized through the functional and successful intersectoral coordinating structure.

Ladies and Gentleman

One of the major challenges facing families is the problem of domestic violence , especially gender based violence. We need to address the violence within our families and be good role models for our children. Violence against women, many of whom are mothers, remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations in our country. It has far-reaching consequences – endangering the lives of women and children and harming families and communities. Preventing family violence should be a key priority for all of us.

One of the problems confronting families today is substance abuse. The increase and the abuse of methamphetamine tik (known as nyaope in townships) destroy the moral fibre of our society. Drug abuse is a major contributor to family and social disintegration. It is incumbent on government, with the collaboration of civil society, to do its utmost to shield families from this scourge. In this regard we will continue working closely with civil society and communities to implement the Northern Cape Anti Substance Abuse Strategy that was launched in June 2012 and encourage community members to participate in substance abuse forums. It is our priority to work together with you to prevent drug abuse and the harm that drugs cause to families and society in general.

So, today as we celebrate the International Day for Families we have to ask ourselves: what have we done to support families confronted by all these challenges? Government, in its review of the past nineteen years has addressed these questions and we are proud of what we have achieved by working in partnerships with civil society organisations, organised labour, the business sector, traditional leaders, and international agencies.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is timely that we celebrate the International Day for Families at a time when we will be observing the Child Protection Week in the last week of May . The Department of Social Development introduced Child Protection Week to raise awareness about the need for child protection as well as to mobilise all sectors of society to respond to social ills facing children. Since 1997 Child Protection Week has become an annual campaign of government to educate and mobilise communities to put children first.. Child abuse is one of the most serious social problems, if not the most serious one, in South Africa today, and the government is open to and supportive of any initiatives that will prevent harm to children.

Let me remind you that child abuse not only affects the individual child, it affects the whole community. Along with the physical and emotional costs to individual children, the social and economic costs to our community associated with child abuse and neglect, whilst not always immediately obvious, are enormous.

Many of you would be aware that the Department of Social Development has established the national Child Protection Register, which is used to record information about the abuse, neglect or exploitation of children. The information is used for planning and resources allocation purposes to prevent the abuse and deliberate neglect of children and protect children on provincial and municipal levels. I am appealing to all parents, teachers, social workers and everyone who has the interest of children at heart to make use of the register to report incidents of abuse.

Ladies and Gentlemen

With reference to the Balelapa Household Profiling report (2010), families in Namaqua are confronted with a number of challenges which impact negatively on their functionality.

The challenges were identified as follows: substance abuse, child/youth headed households, HIV/Aids, poverty, high  unemployment rate due to lack of business opportunities, some children between 7-15yrs  do not attend school, limited access to health facilities and lack of skills due to poor educational background.

Families also experience financial constraints as most of them solely depend on social grants to provide for their basic needs. Issues of crime and violence within families cannot also not be ignored as they are exacerbated by the socioeconomic status of families.

All these identified social ills have profoundly affected the well being of family members and consequently placed an added burden on children. Some parents spend most of their time at work and thus cannot exercise their parental obligation. Discipline within families is also a challenge especially for parents who work long hours.

The main focus of the Department of Social Development is to promote social cohesion amongst individuals, families and communities through the implementation of coordinated and integrated family preservation services by all stakeholders to address and eradicate these social ills from our communities , therefore building a caring society together and ensuring a better life for all.

We want to use this important occasion to re-emphasise the need for families and communities to support and protect people with disabilities. People with disabilities are members of families who are mostly neglected in terms of care and understanding. These family members sometimes are ostracised by their siblings such that they end up living in absolute poverty due to lack of socio-economic support.

Communities must promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. People with disabilities form part of families and communities and they have a right to be heard, to be understood and to evolve like everyone else. The marginalisation of people with disabilities limits their potential to contribute to society.

In conclusion, we call on all sectors of society to work with us in a quest to build strong families. These efforts must start with programmes to strengthen families by protecting vulnerable members of society such as children, women, people with disabilities and older persons.

Working together, we can do more to create a caring society.
I thank you , dankie

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